Does the use of analogies contribute to conceptual change?



The nature of the contribution of analogies to conceptual change is far from straight forward. First, review of three studies and evidence from other sources point to a modest contribution of analogies to normal conceptual change. Second, the construct of conceptual change has been defined in many ways with more preeminence given to radical conceptual change. I point out that weak or normal conceptual change is worthy of equal attention from science educators. Third, conceptualizing conceptual change in terms of gradations on a continuum enables teachers and researchers to achieve a clearer understanding of the way in which analogies contribute to conceptual change. Fourth, in order to give analogies a fair evaluation, the conceptual change paradigm ought to endorse a broader conception of change which conjoins propositional and procedural knowledge and accounts for the affective and creative processes that are associated with the education of the whole person and not only the learning of specific concepts. © 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.