Enhancing the Comprehension of Science Text through Visual Analogies

Abstract

Instructional analogies are commonly used in science and mathematics text, yet students may have difficulty understanding analogies in the absence of adequate instructional support. In spatially rich domains like geoscience, visual depictions of both the base and target concepts of text analogies (i.e. visual analogies) may provide crucial support for students. To test whether visual analogies would be beneficial for learning, 72 fourth- and fifth-grade students were provided a short analogy-enhanced instructional text on plate tectonics that included either pictures of both the base and target concepts (Visual Analogy condition) or the pictures of the target concept only (Target Picture condition). Results indicated that children in the Visual Analogy condition outperformed children in the Target Picture condition on both near and far transfer measures. These results are consistent with recent research suggesting that factors that promote comparison – such as side-by-side presentation of examples – facilitate learning from text.


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