Janet Eyler

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

Spring 3-12-2009


The central challenge to educators in the liberal arts as in all areas of study is transfer of learning i.e. how can we design learning environments and instruction to that students will be able to use what they learn in appropriate new contexts? Alfred North Whitehead described this as the problem of ‘inert knowledge’ nearly a century ago and Dewey noted that instruction which helps students reproduce what is studied on exams might not produce the depth of understanding that allows for recognizing the relevance of what is known to a particular situation and the ability to apply it. Knowledge that is not conditionalized (i.e. in which the learner does not know when where and why it is to be used) is inert.


Clark/AAC&U Conference on Liberal Education and Effective Practice