From simulations to real: investigating young students’ learning and transfer from simulations to real tasks

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    Research has explored the use of simulations for education and training, and attention is turning to how they might support learning in school subjects such as mathematics and science. However, existing studies have mostly concentrated on older students, and if simulations help build knowledge useful for solving problems within the simulation, rather than possible transfer beyond the simulation. This paper reports on a study investigating 5 year olds' learning transfer from simulations introducing simple circuit procedures and concepts, to equipment‐based tasks. The study explored for evidence of learning transfer, using an analytical framework that aligned transfer strategy indicators with cognitive process dimensions, to identify transfer events and understand the thinking skills students applied during them. Findings supported the learning value of simulations, indicating young students transferred procedural knowledge to the equipment tasks, with some also demonstrating basic conceptual transfer. They also suggested transfer tasks can provide opportunities to exercise higher order thinking, through activating processes including reflection, evaluation, analysis and abstraction. Such capabilities are highly valued, and central to school achievement and development of learner independence and self‐direction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)778-797
    Number of pages20
    JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
    Issue number3
    Early online date15 Oct 2019
    Publication statusPublished - May 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • cognitive
    • elementary
    • learning transfer
    • science
    • simulation
    • thinking


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