Learning transfer in English-for-academic-purposes contexts: A systematic review of research

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34 Scopus citations


A fundamental goal of EAP instruction is learning transfer to students' other courses. Although research has provided evidence of such transfer, gaps exist regarding its circumstances. However, a related body of research, focusing on learning in EAP contexts, is of value here: While this research does not provide evidence of transfer specifically to other courses, it does provide evidence of transfer across situations in EAP contexts, and an analysis of this can shed light on transfer to other courses. Therefore, 41 studies that investigated learning in EAP contexts were analyzed using the transfer taxonomy (Barnett & Ceci, 2002) (i.e., a 9-dimension analytic tool developed to clarify research on transfer and used to analyze studies in experimental psychology). This analysis revealed much about what is possible for transfer in EAP contexts, specifically that (a) instruction can result in transfer, and such transfer can (b) involve various kinds of learning, (c) have a positive impact on the quality of students' work, (d) occur in situations that place minimal demands on students' memories and in situations that place greater demands on students' memories, and (e) occur across varying distances. Implications for research and practice in EAP contexts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • EAP
  • English for academic purposes
  • Learning transfer
  • Pedagogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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