Transfer of Learning in Those with Down Syndrome

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Transfer of Learning in those with Down Syndrome
Songmaytee Teo
Temasek Polytechnic

Abstract
This paper aims to find whether those with Down syndrome (DS) are able to transfer what they have learnt previously to a task of similar properties. There are 4 participants from Metta Day Activity Centre for the Intellectually Disabled, 2 males and 2 females. They participated in an experiment with a baseline test and an experimental test. The baseline test consists of two tasks which are puzzles and colour matching. The experimental test consists of an integration of the two tasks in the baseline test which is the manipulation of a dice to fit into the correct coloured squared as indicated on a separate piece of paper (i.e. Dice and colour matching or DCM). Results showed that there is a high correlation between the colour tasks and DCM with r=0.935 with r2=0.834. However, these results should be interpreted with caution as this was done on small sample size.  

Transfer of Learning in those with Down Syndrome
Wheatley and Wegner (2001) described automaticity of action as: Automatic thoughts and behaviours are ones that occur efficiently, without the need for conscious guidance or monitoring. They go on to say that there are two types of automaticity where one is conscious and the other is unconscious. A conscious automatic action requires a conscious will to start the action which a person have practiced reasonably well. Such as driving a car where one knows they are driving but without the hassle of thinking of every sequence of action. An unconscious automatic action depends on the stimuli of the environment such as priming. A prime is a stimulus that lean us to the same or similar material. An example would be reading the words of “mentally slow, blur, and stubborn” about someone with Intellectual disability (ID) before meeting someone with ID would cause us to act in a way that would justify that they are “mentally slow, blur, and stubborn”. Similarly, conscious automaticity can be looked at as “a learned skill” whereby they can consciously choose to use that skill when the situation arises. Take dance for example, at first when a person learns a new dance step, they would move their body step by step until they do not have to think much about and just “activate” the skill. However, if the skill has been disrupted, it will cause one to restart the skill from the beginning. Now the question is what happens when they have to move in a similar way but integrate it with another skill they have learned? For example, integrating two genres’ patterns to make a new movement, is that considered automaticity as well? Perkins and Salomon collated past research on transfer of learning and how we are able to overcome new challenges with past experiences. To define what transfer of learning is, we can look at Perkins and Salomon’s (1992) contribution to the encyclopaedia of education paper. They defined transfer of learning as skills and knowledge that are applied beyond the context of which they learn the skills or knowledge. An example would be to apply grammar in an English essay as compared to using proper grammar in speech. The conditions that allow transfer of learning would be: 1) Thorough and diverse practice. When there is extensive practice of the skill in a variety of situations, it will allow the person to have a flexible set of skills that are evoked in a new situation. 2) Explicit abstraction. When a person is able to have full understanding of the underlying principle of a situation and are able to summarise it in a full and sound way would allow them to transfer their learning to a similar situation. 3) Active self monitoring is focusing on one’s own thinking process. There was a study done with retarded children where they were to apply a strategy to complete a problem. However, there was no transfer being seen. They then asked them to focus on their thinking processes that allowed them to recognize when...
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