#### Proposal Title

The use of everyday life analogies in scientific teaching

#### Session Type

Poster

#### Start Date

6-7-2011 5:30 PM

#### Keywords

Analogies, Transfer, Mapping, Ecology, Problem solving

#### Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

#### Abstract

Analogies taken from everyday life can make abstract concepts more concrete and therefore help students understand and apply complex concepts in ecology. However, in order to successfully transfer the knowledge from the analogous situation to an ecological problem, students need to correctly map, i.e. match corresponding terms or processes between the analogy and the problem to be solved. The goal of this study was to evaluate if students’ answers improved when analogies were added. Each problem set had three parts: 1) an analogy (e.g. comparing the chance of winning in a lottery draw to survival rate and density dependent population growth), 2) five to ten questions based on an ecological study, most of which required students to draw conclusions from graphs or tables, and 3) a mapping exercise in which students were asked to match corresponding terms and processes between the analogy and the ecological concept. I found that students who correctly matched the terms of the analogy to the ecological concepts (n=21) scored 71% on the ecological questions, while students who were not able to do the mapping correctly (n=21) scored 44% (p0.05) in terms of their prior knowledge (based on a pre-semester test). Additional research is required in order to answer questions such as: 1) To what extent do analogies improve students’ ability to understand, apply and retain ecological concepts, and 2) What type of analogies help students better understand ecological concepts?

The use of everyday life analogies in scientific teaching

Analogies taken from everyday life can make abstract concepts more concrete and therefore help students understand and apply complex concepts in ecology. However, in order to successfully transfer the knowledge from the analogous situation to an ecological problem, students need to correctly map, i.e. match corresponding terms or processes between the analogy and the problem to be solved. The goal of this study was to evaluate if students’ answers improved when analogies were added. Each problem set had three parts: 1) an analogy (e.g. comparing the chance of winning in a lottery draw to survival rate and density dependent population growth), 2) five to ten questions based on an ecological study, most of which required students to draw conclusions from graphs or tables, and 3) a mapping exercise in which students were asked to match corresponding terms and processes between the analogy and the ecological concept. I found that students who correctly matched the terms of the analogy to the ecological concepts (n=21) scored 71% on the ecological questions, while students who were not able to do the mapping correctly (n=21) scored 44% (p0.05) in terms of their prior knowledge (based on a pre-semester test). Additional research is required in order to answer questions such as: 1) To what extent do analogies improve students’ ability to understand, apply and retain ecological concepts, and 2) What type of analogies help students better understand ecological concepts?