21 helping students see the similarities among the

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Unformatted text preview: are very similar: • Pipes carry the water from one place to another, wires carry electrons from one place to another, • Tanks store water, while batteries store electrons • Valves direct the flow of water while switches direct the flow of electrons. 21 Helping students see the similarities among the relationships of the two systems promotes meaningful learning by encouraging students to use what they know about one system to think about and organize what they are learning about the new system. An additional benefit of teaching with analogies is that the students may get into the habit of looking for relationships. This habit may transfer and enhance the meaningfulness of students’ learning of other materials. Research on the use of analogical problem solving suggests that using analogies to understand and respond to problems is not a simple process. Using an analogy requires that the similarities in relationships, what Gentner (1989) refers to as structural similarity, be recognized. Simply being presented with, or remembering a potentially useful analogy, in not enough (Anolli, Antonietti, & Cantoia, 2001). For example, teaching about electricity using a plumbing analogy, assumes that the learners are sufficiently familiar with structural relationships of plumbing systems to recognize and organize the relevant information in the new system. This assumption may not be justified for some, or even most of the students in a class. This means that if you plan to use analogies in your classes you must that the students have the necessary prior knowledge to benefit from the introduction of the analog, and you may have to explicitly help students find the structural similarities between the two situations. If students lack knowledge of these structural similarities, the use ensure of analogy is unlikely to help them understand the new information, and may even make learning more difficult or cause students to form misconceptions about what they are learning. Derived Structural Schema. Dansereau (1995) refers to schemata that preserve structural relationships of a category of events or objects as structural schema. You will 22 remember from Chapter 3 that a schema is a type memory structure representing information in a person’s long-term memory. Peoples’ schemata define their understanding of categories of objects or events. This abstract structural information is important to our ability to apply our knowledge in new situations. The performance of expert problem solvers is typically attributed to the structural relationships represented in experts’ schemata (Chi, Feltovich, and Glaser, 1981). Daseareau (1995) further distinguishes between two types of structural schema, natural and derived. A natural structural schema preserve the structural relationships among the elements of a category of objects or events, but this understanding is acquired gradually across many experiences, through the process of inductive learning. Learners naturally come to acquire schema from experiencing many similar episodes through the process of inductive learning. This means that in the natural course of events, the struc...
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