Transfer of Learning

5 Strategies to Promote Transfer of Learning at Work

As a manager or a team leader, you know the importance of investing in employee training and development. However, the real challenge lies in ensuring that the knowledge imparted during these sessions is retained and applied on the job. This is where transfer of learning comes into play. Transfer of learning refers to the process of applying skills and knowledge learned in one situation to another. 

In this blog post, we will delve deeper into what transfer of learning is and why it’s vital for teams. We will also discuss factors that affect the this process, along with examples of how it can be promoted during onboarding, development, retention, and change management initiatives. Finally, we will share five effective strategies to facilitate the learning transfer in your team.

What is Transfer of Learning?

Transfer of Learning is the skill of applying previously learned knowledge and skills to new situations. It can occur in various ways, such as when someone lays their understanding of math to solve a real-world problem or uses skills learned in one job to perform tasks in a different position. It is essential because it allows individuals to apply what they have learned in new and other contexts, which can help them be more effective and efficient in their work and personal lives.

In addition, the transfer of learning ensures positive outcomes like increased productivity, improved job satisfaction, and better overall performance. Teams can utilize strategies like coaching, mentorship, on-the-job training, or creating a culture that values continuous learning to enhance the transfer process. 

In workplace training programs, creating a supportive work environment that encourages practice and application of new skills can promote effective transfer of learning. In addition, strategies such as feedback, reflection, coaching, and mentoring also aid in the successful transfer of learning.

Factors Affecting Transfer of Learning

To ensure a positive transfer of learning, individuals need to be provided with an environment that supports the application of new knowledge and skills. Trainers must use effective teaching methodologies while maintaining a supportive learning environment for learners. It is also essential for organizations to have a culture that promotes the integration of newly acquired skills into current work practices.

Motivation and self-efficacy play a significant role in determining if learners can effectively apply their newly acquired knowledge to their jobs. In addition, it is crucial for the tasks or assignments to be designed to provide ample opportunities for employees to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills in real-life situations. Finally, managers can reinforce training by giving feedback, recognition, and further practice opportunities.

Importance of Transfer of Learning for Teams

Effective transfer of learning is critical for employees to utilize new knowledge and skills in their work environment. 

  • Firstly, it helps to ensure that the time and resources invested in employee training are not wasted. When employees can transfer what they have learned to their work, they are more likely to be productive, efficient, and effective. 
  • Secondly, transfer of learning can help employees feel more engaged and motivated in their work. When employees see how their training directly relates to their job responsibilities, they may feel more confident in their abilities and more invested in the team’s success. 
  • Finally, it can help organizations stay competitive by keeping employees up-to-date with new technology, industry trends, and best practices. By promoting the transfer of learning at work, teams can create a culture of continuous improvement and set themselves up for long-term success.

Examples of Transfer of Learning 

Managers can utilize various strategies to ensure a positive transfer of learning, starting right from employee onboarding. It is recommended to allow trainees to apply new knowledge and skills in real-life situations. Managers can make it more effective by incorporating prior knowledge from case studies or past experiences into the training program, which will facilitate immediate transfer. Additionally, encouraging learners to reflect on their new information and its potential use in unique situations is vital for promoting generalization or far transfer.

Transfer of learning on Onboarding

Establishing a supportive work environment through mentoring or coaching initiatives enhances self-efficacy and learner feedback, promoting positive transfer. Learning transfer can also be improved by aligning career goals with training design, ensuring familiarity with training methodologies and retention metrics, or facilitating similar elements between previous and current training initiatives.

Notably, zero transfer occurs when an individual’s cognition does not recognize commonalities between the current situation and previous learning experiences. Therefore, it’s essential to incorporate prior foundational knowledge into onboarding programs followed by metacognition techniques such as analogical transfer to improve trainee performance.

Manager Training and Transfer of Learning

Practical manager training is essential for promoting the learning transfer in any organization. The success of any training program depends on how well managers can assist learners in identifying opportunities to apply new knowledge or skills in real-life situations. Providing feedback and support to reinforce the application of new learning is crucial. Strategies such as coaching or mentoring have proven effective in enhancing transfer activities. Prioritizing training initiatives aligned with career goals and outcomes promotes positive transfer in work environments. 

Development and Transfer of Learning

During onboarding programs, it is essential to develop and transfer new knowledge and skills to ensure that employees can apply them in real-life situations. The transfer of the learning process can be facilitated by implementing several methodologies like job shadowing, mentoring, coaching, and offering opportunities for practice and feedback. Additionally, assessments and evaluations can be used to measure the transfer degree and identify improvement areas. By doing so, employees’ perceptions of training design will change positively, leading to improved job performance and business outcomes.

Retention and Employee Engagement Through Transfer of Learning

Teams create a culture that envisions continuous learning to retain and engage employees through the transfer of learning. Employees must have access to resources like job aids or mentors to facilitate this process. Encouraging learners to share their knowledge, experience, and feedback can also improve retention.

Effective onboarding programs providing opportunities for near-transfer followed by far-transfer activities while utilizing analogies or conceptual frameworks will improve performance. Prior knowledge plays a vital role in promoting both positive and negative transfers. Measuring the metrics of training transfer ensures that trainees apply new information or skillsets in real-life situations leading to improved job performance aligned with career goals and ensuring business outcomes in line with team objectives.

Check out: The Complete Guide to Training Evaluation Survey (With 20+ Questions)

Change Management and Transfer of Learning

Effective change management can help enhance the transfer of learning in a team. It involves creating an environment that fosters continuous growth and development while encouraging the application of new knowledge and skills to unique situations. Promoting positive transfer requires involving employees in the change process, providing opportunities to practice new skills with feedback and support, and recognizing and rewarding successful transfer activities. 

How to Promote Transfer of Learning?

Transfer learning by using real-life scenarios and case studies to apply new knowledge in the workplace. Reinforce learning with practice and feedback, and encourage employee collaboration and knowledge sharing. Finally, align training with organizational goals to ensure relevance and effectiveness.

Enhancing Transfer of Learning with Facilitators

Facilitators play a crucial role in enhancing the transfer of the learning process. Employees must apply new skills and knowledge in their work tasks for positive transfer. To enhance the transfer of learning, facilitators should provide hands-on practice and encourage real-world application to familiarize employees with new information, skills, and knowledge. Furthermore, creating a supportive work environment that values continuous learning helps facilitate the transfer process. Follow-up training sessions or coaching can be used as training interventions to reinforce the learning process and improve career goal alignment, which leads to business outcomes. The degree of resemblance between the previous and current learning situations affects the transfer task’s successful completion more than prior knowledge alone. 


To achieve the maximum benefits of learning in the workplace, it is essential to promote the transfer of learning. It helps in retaining knowledge and applying it to real-world situations. To ensure that employees are equipped with the right skills and expertise, facilitators can play a crucial role in enhancing the learning transfer. They help create an environment where learners can apply their newly acquired knowledge, receive feedback, and reflect on their experiences. By incorporating these strategies into your training programs, you can promote the transfer of learning and see a positive impact on employee development and retention. 

What is the transfer of learning?

The transfer of learning refers to the application or utilization of knowledge, skills, or information gained in one context to another context or new situations. It involves the ability to effectively transfer and apply what has been learned in one setting to enhance performance or problem-solving in a different setting.

What are the 4 types of transfer of learning?

The four types of transfer of learning are:
a) Near Transfer: Near transfer occurs when knowledge or skills learned in one situation are applied to a similar or closely related context. For example, using mathematical concepts learned in school to solve similar math problems at home.
b) Far Transfer: Far transfer happens when knowledge or skills acquired in one context are applied to a different or unrelated context. For instance, applying critical thinking skills learned in philosophy classes to solve complex business problems.
c) Vertical Transfer: Vertical transfer involves the application of previously learned knowledge or skills to a more advanced or complex level within the same domain. An example is building on basic programming skills to learn more advanced coding languages.
d) Horizontal Transfer: Horizontal transfer occurs when knowledge or skills from one domain are applied to a different domain or field. For instance, applying negotiation skills learned in business settings to resolve conflicts in personal relationships.

What is transfer of learning examples?

Examples of transfer of learning include:
a) Applying communication skills learned in a customer service role to effectively interact with colleagues in a team project.
b) Using problem-solving techniques learned in a physics class to tackle real-world engineering challenges.
c) Applying leadership principles and strategies learned in a management training program to lead a diverse team in a different organization.

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