Far Transfer: Does it Exist?


Implementing interventions that are supposed to enhance students’ general learning skill and overall cognitive ability is still a common practice in education. Thus, it is assumed that there is far transfer – i.e., the generalization of a set of skills between domains loosely related to each other. In recent years, chess instruction, music instruction, and working memory training have been claimed to be able to train domain-general abilities (e.g., fluid reasoning/intelligence) which, in turn, generalize to other cognitive and academic skills (e.g., mathematics). We tested these claims in the population of healthy children via meta-analysis. The results showed small to moderate overall far-transfer effects in all the outcome measures of the three meta-analyses. Moreover, the effect sizes were inversely related to the design quality. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings for education and expertise and extend the debate to another type of training, video games training.

Back to Table of Contents