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The Affective dimension of analogy : student interest is more than just interesting

posted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Allan Harrison
The many ways that people use analogy to create and communicate knowledge have interested scientists, educators and psychologists for more than 40 years (e.g., Oppenheimer, 1956; Glynn, 1991). It is not surprising, given the popular view of science as a logical and rational enterprise, that scientific, empirical and cognitive methods have dominated analogical research (e.g., Gick & Holyack, 1983). The rational approach (sometimes called the cold-rational view) has yielded significant benefits for teachers in the form of the FAR guide (see pp. 20-21); however, cognitive studies reveal little about the reasons why teachers and students are attracted to analogy in the first place. This chapter reviews a sample of the small group of studies that comment on the motivating potential of teaching with analogies and concludes that the affected dimension of science analogies should be a research priority. Only be better understanding the allure of analogies can we further enhance the inquiry and teaching power of analogies. Certain concepts like refraction can only be explained by analogy (Harrison, 1994) and analogies are widely used as conceptual change tools, but the use of analogy to raise learners’ interest levels is rarely reported. In their review of the motivational literature on conceptual change, Pintrich, Marx and Boyle (1993), argued that affective factors are largely ignored in concept learning studies. They claimed that affective of “hot-irrational” issues are just as important in concept learning as cognitive activities. This chapter therefore asks “what do we know about the interest-generating dimension of analogies?” and, “how do interesting analogies enhance cognitive learning?”


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)



Ritchie SM

Parent Title

Metaphor and analogy in science education

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Place of Publication


Open Access


External Author Affiliations

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Education;

Era Eligible


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