Links to memory
To date, transfer studies in composition and rhetoric have largely focused on defining, classifying, and teaching to facilitate transfer. Theories such as activity theory (Russell 1995), troublesome knowledge (Adler-Kassner, Majewski, and Koshnick’s 2013), near and far transfer (Perkins and Salomon 1992), high-road versus low-road transfer (Perkins and Salomon 1992), and the effect of dispositions on transfer (Driscoll and Wells 2012), have defined how scholars understand and view transfer in composition studies today. While these theories have played a critical role in defining this field of study, extensive research on the relationship between memory and transfer is needed. Jewitt describes learning as "a process whereby meanings are taken in by a person and made sense of in relation to their present and previous experience, and through that process re-made by them" (27). This definition points to the overt connection between learning and memory. In fact, an inter-dependent relationship exists between memory and transfer, since transfer theory presupposes that stored memory exists and the mere possibility of memory assumes that there must be useful purposes for stored knowledge in future contexts. These inquiries already made in transfer studies reveal the field’s inclination for further consideration of the role memory plays in this discussion. Cognitive researchers Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel argue that "Prior knowledge is a pre-requistite for making sense of new learning" (73). Transfer scholar Julie Foertsch acknowledges this same relationship when she writes, “Learning, of course, is dependent upon memory-- on the ability to retrieve stored episodes and instances from the neural networks of one’s mind. Whether those memories are explicit or implicit, it is the ability to recall and use previously encoded information that makes all learning possible” (364). The possibility for transfer of learning is thus dependent upon the existence of stored memory. Transfer theory assumes, then, that knowledge can be stored, accessed, and used in the future. But what happens to transfer when stored memory declines? This question becomes a reality in the classroom as we see modern students relying more often on “external” technological storage, rather than “internal” knowledge domains.