Teaching and Learning Science with Analogies

Many teachers and textbook writers use analogies to help students understand abstract scientific concepts. However, the teacher or textbook author who chooses to use an analogy to enhance student understanding may differ with the student in the way they visualise the analogy and in the manner they map the analog- target attributes. For this reason, analogies have been called "two-edged swords" and several researchers have highlighted the necessity for educators to identify both the shared and the unshared attributes of each analogy. This symposium comprises four inter-related studies which provide a critical analysis of the role of analogies in science teaching and learning. The first study focuses on the intentions of textbook writers when they include analogies in the textbooks they write, while the second study evaluates one approach for teaching science concepts with analogies in a systematic manner. The third study describes a newly developed teaching guide for incorporating analogies which is informed by collaborative research with several science teachers in Perth schools. While the findings of these studies are promising, analogical instruction needs further research to detremine whether analogies used inteaching can produce enhanced understanding of the phenomenon. Subsequently, the final paper of the symposium provides an examination and evaluation of analogies used to understand the phenomenon of electricity.