European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 3–23

Analogical reasoning in restructuring scientific knowledge

  • Lucia Mason
  • Paolo Sorzio

DOI: 10.1007/BF03172933

Cite this article as:
Mason, L. & Sorzio, P. Eur J Psychol Educ (1996) 11: 3. doi:10.1007/BF03172933


This study presents the results of an experiment which investigated analogical reasoning in knowledge acquisition in a natural school setting. The aims were to evaluate the efficiency of analogy in the conceptual restructuring of a science topic and compare the effects of analogy in different learning conditions. Two analogical topics of physics (water flow and heat flow) were studied by means of two experiments performed in the classroom with concrete objects. Eighty-four 5th graders, divided into three experimental conditions (given analogy, constructed analogy, no analogy), took part in the study. The quantitative analysis mainly confirms the hypothesis that analogy can be a productive way to trigger a process of knowledge restructuring while students learn a new topic. However, the effective use of the analogy was affected by the experimental condition: When the analogy was constructed by the learners themselves, instead of being presented and justified by the teacher, it acted indeed as a more powerful tool in understanding the new topic which required changing their initial conceptions. The qualitative analysis shows the children’s explanations of the heat flow phenomenon and different conceptual outcomes of the learning process. Finally, educational implications are considered.

Key words

Analogy Conceptual change Knowledge restructuring 

Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucia Mason
    • 1
  • Paolo Sorzio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Educational ScienceUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly

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