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Research-driven approaches to Learning Transfer: Learning Design

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Effective Learning Design is just one of a number of factors that positively influence learning transfer. In this article I outline two practical examples the research shows promotes learning transfer.

What methods do you use in your learning design to promote learning transfer?

How we design training influences how much learners apply

Sounds obvious, right?

It is. But you would be surprised how many learning designers are not aware of the influence they have on how much a learner applies from their training.

Often times, a training needs assessment will list out all the things that a learner needs to know at the end of a training. And the Learning Designer will take that info, put it into slides or an eLearn, add a knowledge check or two and bam; learning design complete...

We can do better.

If we design training that makes it easy for learners to see the link between learning and workplace performance this increases how much learning is applied on the job.

  • Modeling is one technique shown to increase learning transfer, as it provides a demonstration of how to apply learning on the job. Modeling, along with allowing learners to practice how the will apply learning in training can increase learning transfer by as much as 37%.

  • Active learning techniques like Error Management; where learners are encouraged to anticipate issues they might encounter in their role, and then supporting them while they solve these problems also increases learning transferred to the role.

Both of the above approaches make it easy for learners to see the link between training and job performance and increase the likelihood of learning being transferred to the job.


Interested in learning more?

Modeling is discussed in more detail here: Leimbach, M. (2010). Learning transfer model: A research‐driven approach to enhancing learning effectiveness. Industrial and Commercial Training, 42(2),81–86. doi: 10.1108/00197851011026063


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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