Metaphor and Analogy in Science Education

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Peter J. Aubusson, Allan G. Harrison, Stephen M. Ritchie
Springer Science & Business Media, 2006 - Education - 210 pages
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Years ago a primary teacher told me about a great series of lessons she had just had. The class had visited rock pools on the seashore, and when she asked them about their observations they talked about: it was like a factory, it was like a church, it was like a garden, it was like our kitchen at breakfast time, etc. Each student’s analogy could be elaborated, and these analogies provided her with strongly engaged students and a great platform from which to develop their learning about biological diversity and interdependence. In everyday life we learn so many things by comparing and contrasting. The use of analogies and metaphors is important in science itself and their use in teaching science seems a natural extension, but textbooks with their own sparse logic, do not help teachers or students. David Ausubel in the 1960s had advocated the use of ‘advance organisers’ to introduce the teaching of conceptual material in the sciences, and some of these had an analogical character. However, research on the value of this idea was cumbersome and indecisive, and it ceased after just a few studies. In the 1980s research into children’s conceptions of scientific phenomena and concepts really burgeoned, and it was soon followed by an exploration of a new set of pedagogical strategies that recognised a student in a science class is much more than a tabula rasa.

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About the author (2006)

Allan G. Harrison is Associate Professor of Science Education at Central Queensland University. Allan taught biology, chemistry and physics to students in Grades 7-12 for 25 years before completing his MSc and PhD at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia. He has taught science teachers for 10 years and has researched teaching and learning with analogies for 15 years and published articles on science analogies in all leading science education journals. Allan also studies the capacity of analogies to engender conceptual change. He brings to this book his personal practical experience in teaching with analogies in high school and his research on other teachers use of analogies. He believes that analogies, when used well, enhance students interest and knowledge in science. He hopes you will share with him his commitment to learning for understanding.

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