The Affective Dimension of Analogy

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5. Conclusions And Recommendations

The paper’s examples — the wheels analogy, Dana’s story, Neil’s teaching and Ian’s interview show that analogies can interest students provided the stories are contextually, intellectually and socially familiar. Three recommendations seem pertinent: First, teachers need a rich and varied set of analogies that stimulate their own and their students’ creative imaginations. When teachers and students coconstruct analogical explanations using the students’ shared experiences, effective learning often results. Second, teachers need a systematic strategy for presenting analogies so that the analogy’s familiarity and interest is assured; the shared attributes are mapped in a way that enhances relational knowledge; and a means exists to check that the students realise when and where the analogy breaks down. This strategy is available in the FAR guide (see pp. 20–21). Third, it is important that we study which analogies interest students, why students are interested in these analogies, and which concepts are best developed using these analogies.

This chapter also has shown that expert and creative teachers carefully plan their analogies and understand the limits of their favourite analogies. Yet research shows that many analogies are ad hoc or reflex-like reactions to student disinterest and lack of understanding. Learning will not be of the desired type or depth while ad hoc analogies are retained. I recommend that only those tried analogies that can be presented in an interesting way be used to explain abstract and difficult science concepts.