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This paper describes a model of analogy, analogical scaffolding, which explains present and prior results of student learning with analogies. We build on prior models of representation, blending, and layering of ideas. Extending this model’s explanatory power, we propose ways in which the model can be applied to design a curriculum directed at teaching abstract ideas in physics using multiple, layered analogies. We report on a recent empirical study that motivates this model. Students taught about electromagnetic waves in a curriculum that builds on the model of analogical scaffolding posted substantially greater gains pre- to postinstruction than students taught using a more traditional (non-analogy-based) tutorial (21% vs 7%).
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