The fact that this an issue at both types of higher education institutions indicates that this is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with now before it gets worse. The results of a lack of knowledge transfer can be seen when examining graduation rates, retention statistics, and drop-out rates. While knowledge transfer can’t be blamed entirely for decreases or increases in any of those areas, it certainly is a factor. If students can’t transfer knowledge from their composition course to other courses that also require writing, reading, and critical thinking, something needs to be done. And while viewing composition as a general skills course is unpleasant, in many cases that is exactly what it is and in order for those skills to transfer and benefit the students, instructors must reexamine their teaching methods, values, and, most importantly, the content they are teaching. Implementing transfer theory and teaching threshold concepts are two of the major ways composition scholars (Blaauw-Hara and Nelms & Dively) recommend instructors facilitate transfer. Along with these changes, scholars also recommend students learn how to transfer knowledge in a course or setting between first year composition and their major courses (Frazier and Hassel and Giordano).
Based on the research I will present in this paper, knowledge transfer can be facilitated at both the two and four year college levels. It can be done by using transfer theory to understand how transfer works and how to include that in instruction. Teaching threshold concepts is also important as they as they are the dreaded “general skills” that students need to have emphasized in order to figure out how they apply to other courses. Having either a course or some kind of learning space, like a writing center, that can cater specifically to enabling transfer would also be helpful. These solutions come from a small, but informative, sampling of the articles published on the issue of knowledge transfer. Three of the articles in particular, “Transfer Theory, Threshold Concepts, and First Year Composition,” by Mark Blaauw-Hara, “First Steps Beyond First Year: Coaching Transfer after First Year Composition,” by Dan Frazier, and “Perceived Roadblocks to Transferring Knowledge from First Year Composition to Writing Intensive Major Courses: A Pilot Study,” by Gerald Nelms and Ronda Leathers Dively, were most adamant about these solutions.
In my paper, I will agree with these scholars, and a few others, that these methods would definitely improve students’ ability to transfer knowledge from first year composition to other courses. I will point out that while knowledge transfer has more at stake at the two year college level, it is still important for four year colleges as well. I intend to make a call to action in which I ask that composition instructors consider this issue and attempt to implement these solutions in order to immediately begin to remedy this problem of knowledge transfer.
Blaauw-Hara, Mark. “Transfer Theory, Threshold Concepts, and First Year Composition: Connecting Writing Courses to the Rest of College.” Teaching English in the Two Year College (2014): 354-365. NCTE. Web.
Frazier, Dan. “First Steps Beyond First Year: Coaching Transfer after First Year Composition.” Writing Program Administration 33.3 (2010): 34-53. Web.
Hassel, Holly and Joanne Baird Giordano. “Transfer Institutions, Transfer of Knowledge: The Development of Rhetorical Adaptability and Underprepared Writers.” Teaching English in the Two Year College 37.1 (2009): 24-41. NCTE. Web.
Nelms, Gerald and Ronda Leathers Dively. “Perceived Roadblocks to Transferring Knowledge from FYC to Writing Intensive Major Courses: A Pilot Study.” Writing Program Administration 31.1 (2007): 214-240. Web.
Robertson, Liane, Kara Taczack and Kathleen Blake Yancey. “Notes Toward a Theory of Prior Knowledge and Its Role in College Composers’ Transfer of Knowledge and Practice.” Composition Forum 26 (2021): 1-21. NCTE. Web.
Tinberg, Howard. “Reconsidering Transfer Knowledge at the Community College: Challenges and Opportunities.” Teaching English in the Two Year College 43.1 (2015): 7-31. NCTE. Web.