Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management


Backman, Kenneth F


This study examines meaningful learning transfer at a historic site. Transfer is the ability to apply knowledge to a new situation or setting and can be divided into near and far transfer. Near transfer is characterized by the ability to transfer knowledge to a similar situation, whereas far transfer is the ability to transfer knowledge to a different situation. This between-subject post-test only field experiment investigated the effect of interpretive message design on visitors' ability to transfer leaning from an interpretive audio tour at a heritage site. Interpretive messages were designed to examine the effect of message organizers (i.e. presence or absence of an advance organizer) and message content (i.e. basic, personalized or analogical references) on learning transfer. Visitors to the Winnipeg Exchange District National Historic Site during the 2006 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival were intercepted at the outdoor site and were asked to listen to an interpretive audio tour. After listening to the audio tour participants completed near and far transfer tests. The MANOVA results revealed that no significant differences existed between messages with and without advance organizers with regards to learning transfer. Significant differences were found between personalized messages and basic messages with regards to near and far transfer; furthermore, significant differences existed between analogical reference messages and basic messages with respect to far transfer. These results suggest that near and far transfer are accomplished through different mechanisms and therefore messages need to be carefully designed to accomplish the type of transfer desired. This study provides interpreters with insight into how visitors' meaningful learning can be enhanced at historic sites.