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Analogical reasoning in science education: - connections to semantics and scientific modelling in thermodynamics
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Learning, Aesthetics, Natural science. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences. (TekNaD)
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Analogiskt tänkande är en central kognitiv förmåga som vi använder i vardagslivet, såväl som i mer formella sammanhang, såsom i forskning och undervisning. Föreliggande avhandling behandlar hur analogier och analogiskt tänkande, uppmärksamhet på semantik och förståelse för vetenskaplig modellering kan användas för att hantera utmaningar i naturvetenskapsundervisningen, särskilt inom området termodynamik. Dessutom presenteras ett teoretiskt ramverk över hur analogiskt tänkande förhåller sig till semantik och vetenskaplig modellering, tre ämnesområden som alla utgår ifrån att finna motsvarigheter mellan två olika domäner. Mot denna bakgrund fokuserar avhandlingen på följande forskningsfrågor: I vilken utsträckning används analogier för att koppla olika representationer av ett fenomen till varandra och till det representerade fenomenet? Hur relaterar självgenerade analogier till vetenskaplig modellering?

Avhandlingen består av fyra publicerade tidskriftsartiklar och en kappa. Den första artikeln är en semantisk utredning av ordet ’entropi’, den andra artikeln är en empirisk undersökning av synen på vetenskaplig modellering i olika kunskapstraditioner, och de tredje och fjärde artiklarna är empiriska undersökningar av fysiklärarstudenters respektive förstaklassares självgenererade analogier för termiska fenomen. Från ett metodperspektiv utfördes de empiriska studierna i en huvudsakligen kvalitativ tradition, där centrala resonemang exemplifieras genom analys av dialogutdrag. I de två studierna av självgenererade analogier fick deltagarna olika former av stöttning i form av social interaktion med varandra, gemensam erfarenhet av naturfenomen och diskussion kring deras representationer av fenomenen. I kappan utvecklas det teoretiska ramverket och mot den bakgrunden görs en omanalys av artiklarnas resultat.

En central ståndpunkt i avhandlingen är att varje fenomen kan representeras på många olika sätt, som alla kan vara lämpliga och användbara i olika sammanhang med tyngdpunkt på olika aspekter av fenomenet. Rörande analogiskt tänkande anförs att elever och studenter kan skapa flera egna analogier för att få en rikare, kompletterande bild av ett fenomen, snarare än att undervisas utifrån en enda förment bästa analogi. Med utgångspunkt från vetenskaplig modellering kan olika representationer eller modeller lyfta fram olika aspekter av ett fenomen, med olika grad av idealisering och inom olika kunskapstraditioner. Slutligen, från ett semantiskt perspektiv kan ett ord svara mot flera, distinkta, men relaterade betydelser – fenomenet polysemi. Dessa tre perspektiv kan erbjuda konstruktivistiska ansatser till begreppsförståelse inom naturvetenskapsundervisningen, genom att elever och studenter uppmuntras att i dialog knyta till sin vardagsföreställning av de begrepp och fenomen de möts av, snarare än att byta ut den mot ett enda, förmodat korrekt vetenskapligt begrepp.

Dessutom hävdas att den naturvetenskapsdidaktiska forskningen kan komma långt med ett strukturellt fokus på analogiskt tänkande och vetenskaplig modellering, där man försöker finna motsvarigheter mellan domäners beståndsdelar och deras relationer och helst isomorfism, en perfekt  överensstämmelse, men att beaktande av andra dimensioner, såsom en insikt i kognitionens förankring i kroppen och varseblivningen, de pragmatiska, kontextuella sammanhangen mot vilken bakgrund tänkande sker och språkets särskilda karaktär, krävs för en mer heltäckande bild.

Abstract [en]

Analogical reasoning is a central cognitive ability that is used in our everyday lives, as well as in formal settings, such as in research and teaching. This dissertation concerns how analogies and analogical reasoning, attention to semantics and insight into scientific modelling may be recruited in order to come to terms with challenges in science education, in particular within the field of thermodynamics. In addition, it provides a theoretical framework of how analogy relates to semantics and the practice of scientific modelling, three fields of study which all strive to map correspondences between two different domains. In particular, the dissertation addresses the following research questions: To what degree is analogy involved in connecting different representations of a phenomenon to each other and to the represented phenomenon? How do students’ selfgenerated analogies relate to the practice of scientific modelling?

The dissertation comprises four published journal articles and a cover story. The first article is a semantic investigation of the word ‘entropy’, the second article is an empirical study of the view on scientific modelling in different traditions of knowledge, and the third and fourth articles are empirical studies of self-generated analogies for thermal phenomena among preservice physics teachers and first-graders, respectively. From a methodological point of view, the empirical studies were conducted in a primarily qualitative tradition, where central lines of reasoning are exemplified by analysis of dialogue excerpts. The two studies on self-generated analogies provided the participants with extensive scaffolding in the form of social interaction among peers, interaction with physical phenomena and discussion of their representations of the phenomena. The theoretical framework is developed in the cover story, which provides a background to the individual studies and reanalyses of the findings.

A key claim of the dissertation is that any phenomenon can be represented in many different ways, all potentially adequate and useful in different contexts, emphasising different aspects of the phenomenon. Applied to the field of analogical reasoning, it is argued that students can generate several analogies themselves in order to get a richer, complementary view of a phenomenon, as opposed to be provided with a presumed best analogy. As for scientific models, many different representations or models may bring across different aspects of a phenomenon at varying degrees of idealisation and within different traditions of knowledge. Finally, in semantics, one word may correspond to several distinct, yet related, meanings: the phenomenon of polysemy. These three perspectives may provide constructivist approaches to conceptual development in science teaching, in which students are encouraged to connect to and enrich their everyday understanding of encountered concepts and phenomena in dialogue, rather than merely abandoning them for one single, supposedly correct, scientific concept.

In addition, science education research can come quite far with structural approaches to analysing analogical reasoning and scientific modelling, establishing correspondences between entities in different domains, ultimately striving for isomorphism, perfect matches, but other dimensions, such as the perceptual, embodied nature of our cognition, the pragmatic, contextual circumstances in which any act of reasoning is performed, and the specificities of language, should also be taken into account for a fuller view.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. , 100 p.
Series
Studies in Science and Technology Education, ISSN 1652-5051 ; 60
Keyword [en]
science education, thermodynamics, analogical reasoning, semantics, scientific modelling
Keyword [sv]
naturvetenskapsdidaktik, termodynamik, analogiskt tänkande, semantik, vetenskaplig modellering
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-85514ISBN: 978-91-7519-773-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-85514DiVA: diva2:571154
Public defence
2012-11-23, Kåkenhus, K2, Campus Norrköping, Linköpings universitet, Norrköping, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-11-22 Created: 2012-11-21 Last updated: 2015-06-02Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Different Senses of Entropy-Implications for Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Different Senses of Entropy-Implications for Education
2010 (English)In: ENTROPY, ISSN 1099-4300, Vol. 12, no 3, 490-515 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A challenge in the teaching of entropy is that the word has several different senses, which may provide an obstacle for communication. This study identifies five distinct senses of the word entropy, using the Principled Polysemy approach from the field of linguistics. A semantic network is developed of how the senses are related, using text excerpts from dictionaries, text books and text corpora. Educational challenges such as the existence of several formal senses of entropy and the intermediary position of entropy as disorder along the formal/non-formal scale are presented using a two-Dimensional Semiotic/semantic Analysing Schema (2-D SAS).

Keyword
science education, thermodynamics, entropy, semantics, cognitive linguistics, polysemy
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-54783 (URN)10.3390/e12030490 (DOI)000275934000012 ()
Available from: 2010-04-09 Created: 2010-04-09 Last updated: 2014-09-25
2. Perspective on models in theoretical and practical traditions of knowledge: The example of Otto engine animations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perspective on models in theoretical and practical traditions of knowledge: The example of Otto engine animations
2012 (English)In: International journal of technology and design education, ISSN 0957-7572, E-ISSN 1573-1804, Vol. 22, no 3, 311-327 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Nineteen informants (n = 19) were asked to study and comment two computer animations of the Otto combustion engine. One animation was non-interactive and realistic in the sense of depicting a physical engine. The other animation was more idealised, interactive and synchronised with a dynamic PV-graph. The informants represented practical and theoretical traditions of knowledge: science students and teachers at upper secondary school level; vocational students and teachers in vehicle mechanics at upper secondary school level, and; MSc and PhD students in vehicle system engineering. The aim was to explore how they interpreted the animations against the background of their different traditions of knowledge and their experience of physical engines and models of engines. A key finding was that the PhD students saw the interactive animation as a familiar and useful model of engines, whereas the vehicle mechanics teachers saw it as a poor representation of reality. A general conclusion was that there is a variety of competent ways to interpret a model, depending on the tradition of knowledge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2012
Keyword
Traditions of knowledge – Modelling – Computer animation – Thermodynamics – Combustion engine
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-79922 (URN)10.1007/s10798-010-9146-0 (DOI)000307271800004 ()
Available from: 2012-08-15 Created: 2012-08-15 Last updated: 2017-12-07
3. Using self-generated analogies in teaching of thermodynamics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using self-generated analogies in teaching of thermodynamics
2012 (English)In: Journal of Research in Science Teaching, ISSN 0022-4308, E-ISSN 1098-2736, Vol. 49, no 7, 898-921 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Using self-generated analogies has been proposed as a method in a constructivist tradition for students to learn about a new subject, by use of what they previously know. We report on a group exercise on using self-generated analogies to make sense of two thermodynamic processes, reversible adiabatic expansion and free adiabatic expansion of an ideal gas. The participants (N = 8) were physics preservice teacher students at the fourth year of the teacher education program. A main finding was that work with self-generated analogies tended to be accompanied by the students assuming ownership for their learning, manifested in terms of actions of choice and control and the use of exploratory talk. Consequently, several self-generated analogies were elaborated and developed to a high-order relational structure. However, we also found that with the use of self-generated analogies in science teaching follows the risks of developing idiosyncratic explanations of the encountered phenomena or getting stuck in overly complex comparisons.

Abstract [sv]

Självgenererade analogier har förts fram som en metod i en konstruktivistisk tradition för att elever och studenter ska kunna lära sig något nytt genom att relatera till vad de redan vet. Vi redogör här för en gruppövning där självgenererade analogier användes för att förstå två termodynamiska processer: reversibel adiabatisk expansion, respektive fri adiabatisk expansion av en ideal gas. Åtta (N = 8) lärarstudenter på fjärde året av utbildningen med inriktning mot fysik på gymnasiet deltog i studien. Ett viktigt resultat var att vid arbete med självgenererade analogier tenderade studenterna att ta ägandeskap för sitt lärande, vilket tog sig uttryck i handlingar såsom aktiva val, kontroll över processen och explorativ dialog. Som en följd utvecklades flera av de självgenererade analogierna till ett stort strukturellt djup. Samtidigt såg vi att vid skapande av egna analogier löper studenter risken att utveckla egna förklaringar av de studerade fenomenen som inte svarar mot dem inom vetenskapen eller snärja in sig i alltför komplexa jämförelser.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2012
Keyword
self-generated analogies; group work; thermodynamics; ownership of learning
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-79919 (URN)10.1002/tea.21025 (DOI)000307740400003 ()
Available from: 2012-08-15 Created: 2012-08-15 Last updated: 2017-12-07
4. Young children's analogical reasoning in science domains
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Young children's analogical reasoning in science domains
2012 (English)In: Science Education, ISSN 0036-8326, E-ISSN 1098-237X, Vol. 96, no 4, 725-756 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This exploratory study in a classroom setting investigates first graders (age 78 years, N = 25) ability to perform analogical reasoning and create their own analogies for two irreversible natural phenomena: mixing and heat transfer. We found that the children who contributed actively to a full-class discussion were consistently successful at making analogical comparisons between known objects provided by a researcher and that some of the children could come up with their own analogies for the abstract natural phenomena with which they interacted. The use of full-class and small-group settings, shared laboratory experiences of the phenomena and childrens drawings as different kinds of scaffolding was found to be helpful for the childrens analogical reasoning. As an implication for science education, self-generated analogies are put forward as a potential learning tool within a constructivist approach to education.

National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-79916 (URN)10.1002/sce.21009 (DOI)000305122800008 ()
Available from: 2012-08-15 Created: 2012-08-15 Last updated: 2017-12-07

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