Learning a skill is more than just sitting in a classroom and repeating memorised information. To truly learn something, it has to be a used and developed skill, not just on tests but in the real world. Spark Math believes all education should have something to do with transfer, meaning that what’s learnt in Spark Math classrooms can be applied to another learning area or a different situation.
“The Spark Math Learning Explained Series” is a 3-part series that gives an overview of the different learning methods Spark Math courseware is made of. We want to share with you how we spark passion for learning that ignites a lifelong love for math. Our curriculum is built to help children look at math in a different way. Spark Math’s proprietary curriculum finds the best ways to help children understand, absorb, and build practical skills in math. Here’s the third in our series: Spark Math and the Transfer of Learning System.
What is the Transfer of Learning System?
The Transfer of Learning System is about taking the knowledge you are learning and applying it in different contexts using skills and concepts you already have. It focuses on learning how to use skills in different ways. When students are able to apply what they’ve learnt in different ways, this is proof of a deeper knowledge of a subject, which is more than just knowing facts.
Being able to transfer knowledge from one area to another is crucial when it comes to math, since math builds upon itself. Concepts that children learn in kindergarten are still important when doing math at a higher level in polytechnic or junior college. Some students may memorise information they are taught, and score well when tested on that information alone. However, that is rote memorisation and not based on true understanding. When another math problem, testing on the same concepts, is presented in a different way, these students may have trouble solving the problem even if they can recall the concept. The real test is mastering critical-thinking skills and learning when to use them in context.
Low-Road & High-Road Transfer of Knowledge
There are two types of ways to transfer knowledge, “Low-road transfer” and “High-road transfer”. Low-road transfer is indirectly learning how to use prior skills in a new way. This is a transfer most people do without thinking about and it becomes second nature.
Think of learning how to drive a car. People get better through practice and repetition. You might have learnt in an SUV, where you sit higher up and have to think about how much room you have in a parking space. You have all the driving knowledge and skills you need to get a license. When you have to drive a smaller car, it may seem foreign to you at first. However, you will adjust faster because you have the skills needed to drive a car. It’s just the vehicle that has changed. Students know what is being asked, and what you have to do in order to succeed.
High-road transfer involves a mindful evaluation of the situation and applying previous knowledge to it. For example, students receive a problem without being told specifically how to find the answer. They then need to look at what skills and knowledge they have that can help solve it. Answering a question without knowing how can seem impossible at first, but this is when critical thinking comes into play. Math word problems are the ultimate example of high-road knowledge transfer for children.
Every problem is solved using math concepts they have been taught. When answering word problems, children have to take the time to realise what the question is asking, and what skills they have that can help you answer it.
Spark Math and Teaching for Transfer
Spark Math is dedicated to teaching students the knowledge they need starting at a young age. Developing fundamental math skills and taking those skills with them as they advance through their math learning journey is key. Our teachers are not only there to help children learn new skills, but also equip them with high-road transfer ability so they know how to effectively apply their knowledge in other new situations. Spark Math and our teachers develop questions and activities that help young children use high-road transfer skills. The goal is to nurture our students into happy and motivated problem solvers who are able to tackle complex questions, today and in the future.
Developing transfer of learning at a young age
Supporting the ability to transfer knowledge between skills is important in the development of children. In a study by Ohio State university, children develop the ability to transfer knowledge from one skill to another at 16 months old. Tap into this opportunity and start math education early for your child to help them reap the benefits of starting young.
Spark Math’s teachers and courseware aim to build confidence in math by supporting the transfer of knowledge of new skills. This process involves reflecting on what students have learnt and where it can be applied in different scenarios. Through a series of guided questions, we encourage children to summarise their thinking processes, identify similarities and differences between previous and current problems, and talk about challenges they encounter.
How Spark Math Uses Transfer of Learning
Spark Math uses examples, like going shopping, to help express different ways their knowledge can be used. In a grocery store there’s math everywhere. While shopping, children can figure out how much things cost using addition and subtraction, how big or small thing are with measurement, and how long they have to shop using time. For younger students, gamified learning is a great way to transfer the skills they know in a fun yet challenging way. Spark Math teaches children adapt to “ever-changing” topics through fun gamified lessons, stories, and animation. This encourageschildren to be interactive and excited to use their skills in new scenarios.
Students are encouraged to summarise their thinking processes. The goal is to identify similarities or differences between new and old problems while understanding the challenges they encounter. This helps children discover connections between what they learn in class and their daily lives. The Transfer of Knowledge System helps students apply the skills they have used in their journey.
“The Spark Math Learning Explained” series is designed to help parents understand how Spark Math designsan interactive, engaging curriculum that builds fundamental math skills and motivate learning for life. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 to learn more about how we teach children math skills and strategies to problem solve.
Spark Math by VISPARK classes are for children ages 3 to 11. Learn more about how Spark Math helps test preparation, improves math scores, and makes learning fun for your child! Sign up for a FREE trial class and provide your child with the skills they need to successfully tackle math problem sums!