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Teachers traditionally have used analogies as explanatory tools in bridging the gap between new and preexisting knowledge. In two studies, I examine the impact of analogies in teaching undergraduates conceptual applications of developmental psychology theories. In Study 1, I generate analogies reflecting each theory; in Study 2, I use both teacher- and student-generated analogies. Students' attitudes toward analogy-enhanced instruction were predominantly favorable. Teacher-generated-analogy (TGA) and student-generated-analogy (SGA) learning conditions performed significantly better than a no-analogy control group in understanding and applying developmental theories. Because learning becomes more active and interactive when students create their own analogies and share them with classmates and the instructor as part of in-class discussion and critique, the SGA learning condition similarly outperformed the TGA learning condition. In line with a constructivist model of teaching and learning, psychological explanations, educational applications, and implications for future research are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Business and Social Science, Gordon College, Barnesville, Georgia, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2001

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