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Analogical Reasoning and Conceptual Change in Physics Education


Educational researchers have shown that a key difficulty in teaching science, and in particular in teaching physics, is how to bring about conceptual change (Posner, Strike, Hewson, & Gertzog,1982). The instruction of complex concepts in science, and especially in physics, often involves some use analogies. This research proposal aims to achieve two main goals: (1) Develop an empirically based theory that explains how and to what extent instructional analogies affect conceptual change during the acquisition of new knowledge in physics; (2) Derive practical recommendations from this theory regarding the use of analogical reasoning when teaching science, and particularly when teaching physics in high school and at the introductory undergraduate level, to achieve conceptual change. This will be done by conducting clinical interviews (Clement, 2000) which will lead to the design of a set of learning activities in a design experiment mode (Cobb, Confrey, diSessa, Lehrer, & Schauble, 2003) that will be used for iterative clinical teaching studies of key topics in physics that traditionally involve analogical reasoning. The innovative features of this research are as follows: (1) The learning events that are prompted by analogical explanations will be studied using two research methodologies employed to measure conceptual change, namely knowledge analysis (diSessa, 1993, 2004), and microgenetic analysis (Siegler & Crowley, 1991). (2) The theoretical framework guiding this analysis will be the 'Knowledge in Pieces' theory of conceptual change (diSessa, 1988, 1993). The proposed research will contribute to European excellence and European competitiveness in the following ways: (1) It will strengthen the cognitive components of educational research in science education, (2) It will advance the use of high quality educational research methods, and (3) enhance the quality of future science instruction and in particular the instruction of physics.

Call for proposal

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Ramat Aviv
69978 Tel Aviv
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 247 175,67
Administrative Contact
Lea Pais (Ms.)