Distinguish between positive and negative transfer, and give a concrete example of each to illustrate your discussion.
Positive transfer occurs when something that a person has learned in one situation helps that person learn of perform in another situation. Positive transfer took place when Elena’s Spanish helped her learn French, and when Larry’s knowledge of reinforcement influenced his decision to do his homework before playing a video game, and when Stella’s experiences with note taking in history class improved her performance in geography.
In contrast, negative transfer occurs when prior knowledge hinders a person’s learning or performance at a later time. This was the situation for poor Ted: He transferred a principle related to whole numbers (one number is always larger than another if it has more digits) to a situation where it didn’t apply: the comparison of decimals. Another case of negative transfer occurs when students confuse the facts related to the various wars they study in history. For example, some students in the United States believe that the American Revolution was a battle between the English and the French (thus confusing it with the French and Indian War) or between the Northern and Southern states (thus confusing it with the American Civil War).