Mutual alignment comparison facilitates abstraction and transfer of a complex scientific concept

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Learning about a scientific concept often occurs in the context of unfamiliar examples. Mutual alignment analogy – a type of analogical comparison in which the analogues are only partially understood – has been shown to facilitate learning from unfamiliar examples . In the present study, we examined the role of mutual alignment analogy in the abstraction and transfer of a complex scientific concept from examples presented in expository texts. Our results provide evidence that (a) promoting comparison between two examples and (b) orienting the learner toward relational commonalities result in greater abstraction and transfer. These findings suggest that mutual alignment analogy is an effective means of promoting abstraction and transfer of complex scientific concepts, and may thus be used in the classroom to promote learning from unfamiliar examples.

Keywords: analogical learning; analogy; mutual alignment; science learning; transfer

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Educational Psychology,Georgia State University, Atlanta,GA, USA 2: Psychology,College of the Holy Cross, Worcester,MA, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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