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Issue 2, 2015
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The analysis of analogy use in the teaching of introductory quantum theory

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This study analyzes the analogies used in the teaching of introductory quantum theory concepts. Over twelve weeks, the researcher observed each class for a semester and conducted interviews with the students and the instructor. In the interviews, students answered questions about quantum theory concepts, which the instructor had taught them using analogies, and also discussed the effectiveness of these analogies. This study identified 48 analogies used by the instructor over the course of 53 fifty minute classes. The analysis of video recordings of the classes revealed that most of the analogies were constructed at the beginning of the semester during the teaching of the particle nature of waves, which is critical for understanding quantum theory. A large proportion of the analogies were given in verbal format; however, a limited number of pictorial and body motion elements were also used together with the analogies. The analogies were mainly positioned as an embedded activator prior to drawing conclusions about the target. It was also observed that analogies were used as an advance organizer and post synthesizer. In addition, the number of simple and enriched analogies used was similar. A limited number of analog explanations were identified and none of the analogies used indicated strategy identification. The instructor never mentioned the limitation of each analogy during their use in class as well. A large proportion of the analogies used spontaneously included both anthropomorphic and environmental characteristics. Although the presentation medium of the analogies was mainly discourse, the presentation of analogies in role play, story and brainstorming was also identified. In half of the analogy use, the instructor intended their use for clarification of the concepts; however, the use of analogies for introduction of a new topic, gaining attention, increasing participation and discriminating between classical and quantum issues was also observed, indicating a diverse use of analogies. In addition, the interviews revealed that students liked the use of analogies in their classes and believed that they had a positive effect on their understanding of new concepts.

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Article information

11 Jan 2015
27 Feb 2015
First published
17 Mar 2015

Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2015,16, 355-376
Article type

The analysis of analogy use in the teaching of introductory quantum theory

N. Didiş, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2015, 16, 355
DOI: 10.1039/C5RP00011D

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