Analogical reasoning: A process for fostering learning transfer from the classroom to clinical practice

Date of Completion

January 2010


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Health|Education, Higher




Context. One of the most common instructional methods utilized in allied health and medical education to promote learning transfer is examination of a single patient case. However, in non-healthcare settings this practice has shown to be less effective in promoting learning than examination of multiple cases with cueing. Objectives. To examine the extent of learning transfer of cued versus non-cued pre-professional healthcare undergraduates engaged in a case-based analogical reasoning exercise and to determine what factors may explain variance in transfer outcomes. Additionally, the outcomes of this study will provide the athletic training educator and ATEP administrators' rationale and methods for implementing a case-based analogical reasoning pedagogical approach to improve learning transfer. Method . Quasi-experimental randomized post-test design. Participants included 192 pre-professional undergraduates (83 men, 109 women; mean age = 19y, range = 17–33y, SD = 1.73). Cued participants (n = 98) received written cues to compare two heat-illness cases for solution of a hypothermic case, whereas non-cued participants (n = 94) received no cueing. Independent-sample t-test analysis and effect size of mean difference was calculated to assess extent of transfer on a scale of 0–3 for cued and non-cued participants. Results. Cued participants (M = 230, SD = .89) demonstrated significantly more transfer (t(175.91) = 2.65; p = .009; CI95 = (.10, 0.68); d = .39) of the structural principle than non-cued participants (M = 2.14, SD = .86). There was no statistical difference in transfer of treatment method between cued (M = 1.9, SD = 1.14) and non-cued (M = 2.03, SD = .90) participants (t(190) = .874; p = .38; CI95 = (−0.14, 0.36); d = .13). Conclusion. Learning transfer is improved among pre-professional undergraduate students during a case-based analogical reasoning process when they are cued to look for the shared structural principle common to the worked cases. Students exposed to multiple case examination with cueing may be more apt to recall their learning and apply it when faced with novel cases in the clinical environment. Key Words: transfer of learning, analogical reasoning, cueing.^