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Key competencies and transfer

Competencies are not directly observable; they are inferred from performance – performance in a range of contexts. Students need to be able to readily transfer their capability from one context to another.

While each new context brings with it new characteristics and conditions, students can use key competencies to support their transfer of learning between contexts. The complex combinations of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values can be drawn upon as students perform in different contexts.

These competencies will support them as they move between, for example, the:

Helena Baker.
  • mathematics challenge
  • music performance
  • sporting competition
  • geography field trip
  • science reflection.

For students to draw upon the competencies as they move across contexts requires attention to transfer.

Transfer – learning spaces

The idea of transfer in the key competencies means that the range of learning spaces (at home, school, workplaces, in the community, and online) should not be considered separately, but as related to each other.

Learning occurs across all of these spaces and teachers and students should actively seek ways to connect the learning that occurs in them. A key implication for teachers is the need to be aware of what and how students are learning at home, for example, in order to connect with that learning at school.

Similarly, learning that is occurring in the community as students pursue their interests, and online, may signal opportunities for learning in other spaces.

Learning spaces.

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Transfer – learning aspects

The idea of transfer in the key competencies also means that knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values encountered in different learning areas can be transferred to others. In this way the underlying competencies can be strengthened.

This requires both teachers and students to talk about the process of learning in previously experienced content, topics, and contexts as they go about new learning.

For example, how do the attitudes students use to overcome a conceptual challenge in one learning area relate to the attitudes they will need to overcome a different kind of challenge in a different learning area?

KCs learning aspects.

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Transfer ideas from the Te Kura o Tākaro story

Helena Baker works with her school’s community to design their Marautanga, and the visioning of how elements of the curriculum align with the needs of whānau, students, and the kura.

The framework they developed also signals the importance of transfer in teaching and learning.

Framework – key features

Three key features of the framework, and their emphasis on transfer:

Ko Ruahine nga pae maunga

Ko Ruahine nga pae maunga.

The focus on the Ruahine Ranges in the Tākaro story symbolises where students can look out toward the sea and view the endless possibilities for their future. This resonates strongly with the idea of transfer. It signals how learning serves immediate purposes, and will also be applied in both known and unknown contexts in the future.

The eight bands of rain

The eight bands of rain.

The eight bands of rain, representing the learning areas that feed the pae maunga and awa, also signal transfer. Competencies developed through learning areas should be used to support learning in other learning areas. This requires teachers to talk explicitly about how ideas, skills, attitudes, and values explored in science, for example, are similar or different to those in history.

Nga tuna

Nga tuna.

Helena talked about the tuna in the Te Kura o Tākaro framework representing tamariki. They are immersed in the waters that nurture and help them to grow. Tuna travel across land and water to get to other awa, and beyond to the Pacific Islands. This idea that you can move across awa also represents transfer. Students using key competencies, and being aware of when and how they use them, enable learning in new topics, content, and learning areas to be supported.

Thinking about transfer in teaching and learning

Transferring competencies from one context to another requires teachers and students to:

  • explicitly think about the relationship between their learning and performance in one context, with the capabilities required in a new context
  • signal how the conditions in an upcoming context are similar or different to the next
  • draw on their prior experience of using competencies to support their performance in new contexts
  • consider how knowledge/skills/attitudes/values used in other learning areas will help learning in the current learning area.
New and original context.

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Updated on: 08 Jul 2010