Vocations and Learning

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 275–306 | Cite as

The Impact of Individual, Educational, and Workplace Factors on the Transfer of School-Based Learning into the Workplace

  • Ana Inés Renta DavidsEmail author
  • Piet Van den Bossche
  • David Gijbels
  • Manel Fandos Garrido
Original Paper


The aim of this study was to investigate the transfer of learning of professional competences from vocational colleges to the workplace context in vocational education. Concretely, the study examined the relations between the professional competences learned at school and the use and further development of those competences at the workplace during the practice module in vocational education programmes in Spain. The study analysed individual, educational design and work environment factors that facilitate or hinder transfer of learning. The study took a multidimensional approach to professional competences by observing four dimensions: hard-specific, hard-generic, interpersonal and intrapersonal. The data collection drew from a questionnaire administered to students of vocational education programmes (N = 379) after they had completed the practice module scheme. A moderation analysis was applied to observe the effect of individual, educational design and workplace factors on the relation between the competences learned at school and those used at the workplace. The findings showed that compulsory placement, school-work alignment, work-based supervisor, access to resources and task complexity are significant moderators between the competences learned at school and those used at the workplace. The study highlights the coherence between the school and workplaces and work environment characteristics as factors conducive to transfer of learning.


Professional competence Work learning-conducive features School-work alignment Transfer of learning Moderation analysis Vocational education 



This research was supported by Associació Catalana d’Universitats Públiques (ACUP) and Obra Social La Caixa within the research program ‘Recercaixa 2012’. The article was written during a research visit at the Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Antwerp.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Inés Renta Davids
    • 1
    Email author
  • Piet Van den Bossche
    • 2
    • 3
  • David Gijbels
    • 2
  • Manel Fandos Garrido
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PedagogyRovira I Virgili UniversityTarragonaSpain
  2. 2.Faculty of Social ScienceUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  3. 3.School of Business & EconomicsMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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