Transfer of learning: How I get more done with less effort

During A level PE I learnt about the concept of transfer of learning. The principle that once you have learnt a skill in one area it is easier to learn it in another. Footballers use this concept to play well with both feet. Once they learn to play with their dominant foot they find it easier to learn with their non dominant foot.

I find it a very practical concept because it is about getting two things done with one bit of effort. I applied the concept very nicely to get my 5 A Levels because there were so many places that they over lapped each other. For example I studied the same research methods 3 times. So of course study for one course helped the other 2 and overall made my knowledge of the subject much more rounded than if I had just studied it once. This made the question easier to answer in the final exam because I had learnt it more than everyone else. The same goes for the nervous system, social psychology, PE psychology and many more topics. The learning in one topic complemented another and thus I could get much more out of the whole than other students I studied with. That made it easier to handle the workload so the overall effort required for my 5 A levels was the equivalent of 3.5 A levels.

So you see I find the concept of transfer of learning incredibly useful and something I gained by studying PE. Though it’s not just useful for academic studies. I use it in every aspect of life because it’s about getting more done to a high standard with less effort.

So far I have used the principle to:

  1. Be able to win tennis matches with my left or right hand: This meant I could compete this year despite injuring my right wrist. Learning from just one session of tennis
  2. Use knowledge of technology to figure out cutting edge Biology:
    1. I figured out the concept of horizontal gene transfer by considering how computers get infected with viruses.
    2. The structure of the web reflects the structure of the brain because it has evolved from the same underlying principles.
    3. A reflex works the same way web page caching works: The two systems work over huge relative distances at lightning speed. This requires constant communication only sharing the smallest amount of information required.
  3. Get 5 A levels instead of 3. The A levels often related to each other. This meant I could learn one topic but apply it to 2 or 3 A levels. learn topics very well by covering them from different angles in each A level. Each angle complemented the other and embedded my knowledge more deeply but also made my understand deeper and more complete. This was reflected in my results by getting higher marks and grades.
Of course this is a lot to say in just bullet points and there are many more examples. These are just what came to mind. Unfortunately I don’t have time to elaborate now but I will come back when time allows to elaborate. This is certainly a key concept in out competing others. Do more with less. To do so you must take advantage of transfer of learning. Learn one thing, learn many should always be at the heart of what you do.Left vs Right

Just as a short example of what I mean I shot some video of me serving with each hand so I could get a coach to analyse my technique. I thought it’s worth sharing to show you it’s possible. It took a lot of work but it’s paid me back no end this year. Allowing me to compete when injury would have stopped me.

This is me serving right handed

and left handed.

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