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  • Writer's pictureNoni Harrison

Information literacy transfer

Updated: May 8, 2023

Herring (2011) found that a small minority of students identified as non-transferrers, in that they did not transfer knowledge or skills from one subject to another (p. 13). The majority of students believed in transfer in principle but were reluctant to transfer without the guidance and/or encouragement of teachers (Herring, 2011, p. 13). I have definitely experienced this in my teaching as a classroom teacher and as a teacher librarian. My students often do not clearly (or vocally) transfer their skills and knowledge from one subject to another. When I’m teaching, I explicitly make those connections for my students and ask them to tap into their prior knowledge and what they are studying or skills they are using in other subject areas. Herring (2011) also noted that teachers and teacher librarians are often found expecting that transfer just happens or is inevitable; however, this is not the case. As with most effective teaching, these strategies must be explicitly taught and practiced. I think transfer can be supported and encouraged by ensuring consistent literacy language and protocols are used school-wide. There needs to be a common approach and common terminology across all departments and with all teachers, so that students may clearly see the similarities and connections. Students should also be explicitly encouraged to transfer through best teaching practice, which highlights when skills or knowledge intersect between areas. By the sounds of it, most of us agree that consistent language and a common approach to transfer is a practical way of encouraging students to transfer information literacy skills and practices from one subject to another.


Herring, J. E. (2011).  Year 7 students, information literacy, and transfer: a grounded theory. School Library Research, 14, 1-31.

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