Perspectives: Using Analogies in Elementary Scienceby: S. Rená Smith and Sandra K. Abell

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Using analogies in science classrooms helps students make connections between everyday life and the concepts we are trying to teach. Analogies help students form a bridge between their existing knowledge and new knowledge. Humans use analogical reasoning naturally, especially when trying to explain something to others. In addition, Glynn (2007) points out that many of our conversations start with “It’s just like…,” “It’s similar to…,” or “Think of it in this way….” By using analogies, teachers can help students create mental models that link new and sometimes abstract ideas to prior experiences.

Grades
  • Elementary
  • Middle
Publication Date
12/1/2008

Community ActivitySaved in 74 Libraries

Reviews (3)
  • on Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:49 PM

This article is beneficial for teachers because the author explains why an analogy can be a powerful tool to help students better understand science concepts. For example, the author cites a study that showed that 3 groups of students who were taught a science concept using analogies better understood the concept than the group that did not hear any analogies. Furthermore, the article also explains that analogies can help students connect their prior knowledge to what is being taught. As a result of using analogies, students are establishing a familiarity with the concepts and vocabulary which increases their chances of successfully learning the material. The article is also great because it provides teachers with a starting point on how to use analogies in the classroom. For instance, the author explains that teachers should listen to and recognize what metaphors are being generated amongst their students to help them better make sense of the science concept. Moreover, the article states that this is also important for preventing misconceptions, because analogies are only good for explaining a concept if it remains true under great scrutiny and analysis. I think this journal article is a great resource for teachers and it gets a rating of 5 out of 5 stars from me because it uses evidence to support why analogies are a great tool to use in the classroom. Moreover, it provides specific examples of what teachers should do to effectively implement them in class, such as use analogies generated by students and prevent misconceptions by analyzing incorrect metaphors.

Andy T
Andy T

  • on Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:41 AM

Analogies are used in everyday conversations to make concepts more familiar by relation to things in everyday life. In the science classroom analogies can be used to make a comparison between a ‘target concept (the concept you are aiming to have students understand) and the analog concept.’ Not all analogies are good or are used properly. The authors of this article provide the reader with several research models such as TWA and FAR. Advice is also provided on how to get started in elementary grades using analogies. This seems like a great model to help students understand difficult concepts more easily.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:00 PM

This article introduces how to use analogies to help students understand unfamiliar or difficult to understand concepts. The article discusses some of the research and methods to use analogies in an elementary level class room. I really like the idea of using analogies to help clarify concepts and I look forward to doing more research into this topic soon.

Maureen Stover  (Seaside, CA)
Maureen Stover (Seaside, CA)


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