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Research-driven approaches to Learning Transfer: Learner Capacity

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

If your learners are stressed, overworked, and under pressure; learning transfer is unlikely.

Change is hard. Trying to apply something you learned is a drain on your energy.

We’ve all been there; you’ve recently learned about a new approach to solving a problem and you make a mental note to put your learning into practice the next time that problem arises. But when it's time to perform, trying out that new approach in a pressurized environment takes too much effort; so you revert back to doing what you’ve always done. 

Your learners energy, workload, stress levels, and schedule all influence learning transfer.

Stes et al. (2007) studied the learning transfer of employees who had to juggle their day-to-day workload while undergoing a year-long training program. The employees reported that their job responsibilities were a major constraint on their ability to transfer their learning. The energy required to manage the dual demands of their day-to-day responsibilities and their personal development pursuits severely decreased the learners capacity for transfer.

Key takeaway:

For learning leaders and people managers there are some lessons here: If your learners are under pressure, learning and transfer is less likely. Training with no transfer is a waste of valuable company resources. So try to avoid conducting training and development programs at times of high stress for your employees; such as prior to performance reviews, in times of change, and whenever your employees are under pressure.


Interested in learning more?

Stes, A., Clement, M., & Petegem, P. V. (2007). The effectiveness of a faculty training programme: Long‐term and institutional impact. International Journal for Academic Development, 12(2), 99–109. doi: 10.1080/13601440701604898 


About Fergal:

Fergal is a learning transfer expert who shares his evidence-based learning transfer approaches with the learning community. Fergal holds an MSc in Education and Training, and a BSc in Psychology. Contact Fergal for speaking engagements, writing opportunities, or learning transfer consultancy by visiting



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