Using analogy to learn about phenomena at scales outside of human perception

Ilyse RESNICK, Alexandra Davatzes, Nora S. Newcombe, Thomas F. Shipley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding and reasoning about phenomena at scales outside human perception (for example, geologic time) is critical across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Thus, devising strong methods to support acquisition of reasoning at such scales is an important goal in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. In two experiments, we examine the use of analogical principles in learning about geologic time. Across both experiments we find that using a spatial analogy (for example, a time line) to make multiple alignments, and keeping all unrelated components of the analogy held constant (for example, keep the time line the same length), leads to better understanding of the magnitude of geologic time. Effective approaches also include hierarchically and progressively aligning scale information (Experiment 1) and active prediction in making alignments paired with immediate feedback (Experiments 1 and 2).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-38
Number of pages17
JournalCognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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