WHAT RESEARCH TELLS US ABOUT USING ANALOGIES TO TEACH CHEMISTRY

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MaryKay ORGILL*a and George BODNER
aUniversity of Missouri – Columbia, Departments of Biochemistry and Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum, USA
bPurdue University, Department of Chemistry, USA

Received 23rd December 2003

Analogies can be powerful teaching tools because they can make new material intelligible to students by comparing it to material that is already familiar. It is clear, though, that not all analogies are good and that not all “good” analogies are useful to all students. In order to determine which analogies are useful for students and how analogies should be presented to be useful for students, we interviewed biochemistry students about the analogies that were used in their classes. We found that most biochemistry students like, pay particular attention to, and remember the analogies their instructors provide. They use these analogies to understand, visualize, and recall information from class. They argue, however, that analogies are not presented as effectively as they could be in class. We present their suggestions for improving classroom analogy use. [Chem. Educ. Res. Pract.: 2004, 5, 15-32]