Using analogies to improve the teaching performance of preservice teachers

Mark C. James, Lawrence C. Scharmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Prior research in both education and cognitive science has identified analogy making as a powerful tool for explanation as well as a fundamental mechanism for facilitating an individual's construction of knowledge. While a considerable body of research exists focusing on the role analogy plays in learning science concepts, relatively little is known about how instruction in the use of analogies might influence the teaching performance of preservice teachers. The primary objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between pedagogical analogy use and pedagogical reasoning ability in a sample of preservice elementary teachers (PTs), a group that has been identified for their particular difficulties in teaching science. The study utilized a treatment/contrast group design in which the treatment group was provided instruction that guided them in the generation of analogies to aid in the explanation phase of learning cycle lessons. A relationship between analogy use and positive indicants of teaching performance was observed and a case study of a low performing preservice teacher who drastically improved teaching performance using analogy-based pedagogy is presented. A notable effect on conceptual understanding of Newton's Third Law as a result of two brief analogy-based demonstration lessons was also observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-585
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Conceptual change
  • Pedagogical content knowledge
  • Physics
  • Science teacher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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