1st supervisor: Dr. W. R. van Joolingen 2nd supervisor: Dr. P. Wilhelm University of Twente Faculty of behavioral science Enschede – June, 2007 Foreword

A final thought on analogy and analogy mapping

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A final thought on analogy and analogy mapping

This experiment has shown is that it is difficult to tap into the mind of the learner and to see just how a certain topic should be tailored and taught. But complexity comes with the territory, and this may be interpreted as ‘support’ for the high-level perception stance on analogy: It seems that you cannot accurately model analogy making without taking into consideration all or most of the factors that influence how an analogy is arrived at in the first place. It is perhaps for this reason that this experiment was unable to deliver on the potential promise of analogy mapping as a procedure for cognitive support: Perhaps an analogy should not be ´forced´ onto someone. It may be that for understanding complex analogies of reality, students need more coaching and explanation in a way that caters to low-level perceptual processes and previous knowledge of the students, as would likely be suggested by HLP advocates.

Some students may fail to see an analogy, and some may perceive one that is not actually there (Stavy & Tirosh, 1993). This suggests that an analogy used for an educational purpose should be completely understood by the student, or it may lead to misconception.

All this is not to say that analogy mapping as proposed here is invaluable. Rather, it means that this experiment may be best repeated, for instance, with an analogy of which the target domain is completely unknown to the student and the source domain is completely known. Students might benefit from being allowed more time to get acquainted with the process of analogy mapping and/or being allowed more time for assimilation of, replacement of, or conflict with conceptual schema’s. This process of accretion and tuning is thought to be an important factor in achieving conceptual change (Pearsal, Skipper & Mintzes, 1996). It is possible that the current experiment simply was too ambitious in aiming to test the promise of analogy mapping as a cognitive support procedure, as well as wanting it to be effective in teaching something as complex as evolution.

Analogy mapping for understanding very complex topics is perhaps more meaningful in a more carefully designed approach to achieving conceptual change. A good method may be to employ the pedagogy of collaborative conceptual change, including interviews, discussions, conflict, and a provision of many illustrative examples. It is likely that having students and teachers discuss their ideas in groups will reveal many of the alternative conceptions that can exist, as well as their correct alternatives. A teacher may have to tailor his teaching strategy somewhat ´on the fly´, and make sure that learning tasks fit well within the framework provided by the selected strategy (Scott, Asoko, & Driver, 1991).

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