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The Role of Analogy in Learning Spatial Concepts in Geoscience

The Role of Analogy in Learning Spatial Concepts in Geoscience

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The Role of Analogy in Learning Spatial Concepts in Geoscience

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  1. The Role of Analogy in Learning Spatial Concepts in Geoscience Benjamin Jee, Northwestern University David Uttal, Northwestern University Dedre Gentner, Northwestern University Cathy Manduca, Carleton College Thomas Shipley, Temple University Brad Sageman, Northwestern University Carol Ormand, Carleton College Basil Tikoff, UW-Madison

  2. Analogy in science learning “Consider the Earth’s history as the old measure of the English yard, the distance from the king's nose to the tip of his outstretched hand. One stroke of a nail file erases human history.” - McPhee (1981), Basin and Range

  3. Two ways that people can learn from analogy 1. Comparing a less familiar example to a more familiar example Gentner, 1983; Gentner & Markman, 1997

  4. Analogy highlights common relational structure • Mapping favors relational structure over object matches • Analogy supports novel inferences Gentner, 1983; Gentner & Markman, 1997

  5. Two ways that people can learn from analogy 1. Comparing a less familiar example to a more familiar example 2. Comparing two partially understood examples Bryce & MacMillan, 2005; Clement, 1993; Gentner, Loewenstein, & Hung, 2007

  6. Comparing two partially understood examples Structural abstraction • Common relational structure is highlighted • Supports abstraction of common structure Gentner, 1983, 1989, 2003; Gentner & Markman, 1997; Gick & Holyoak, 1983

  7. Comparing two partially understood examples Alignable difference • Common relational structure is highlighted • Supports abstraction of common structure • Highlights alignable differences (readily comparable features that differ between the items) Gentner & Markman, 1995, 1997; Markman & Gentner, 2000

  8. Alignable differences are highly salient Alignable Nonalignable Gentner & Sagi, 2006

  9. Comparing two partially understood examples Progressive alignment • If the corresponding objects are similar, alignment is easier • Progressive alignment = transition from more to less similar examples Gentner, Loewenstein, & Hung, 2007

  10. Applying analogy to perceptual learning of spatial concepts in geoscience A fault is a fracture that shows evidence of movement Students are typically presented with multiple examples in sequence, but identifying faults in these real-world images may be difficult Marshak, 2005; USGS.gov; Wikepedia.org

  11. Applying analogy to fault learning We designed a fault identification task using two principles of analogical learning: 1: Comparisons involving highly similar items facilitates the noticing of alignable differences. Comparing a fault with a highly similar contrast case may highlight cues that can help with identifying a fault Fault X Gentner & Markman, 1995, 1997; Markman & Gentner, 2000

  12. Applying analogy to fault learning We designed a fault identification task using two principles of analogical learning: 1: Comparisons involving highly similar items facilitates the noticing of alignable differences. Comparing a fault with a highly similar contrast case may highlight cues that can help with identifying a fault 2: Over the course of learning, progressive alignmentfrom similar to less similar pairs helps novice learners abstract the perceptual concept fault Gentner, Loewenstein, & Hung, 2007

  13. Applying analogy to fault learning • Learning to identify faults may be facilitated by comparisons that are: • (a) highly similar, where one image contains a fault and the other does not, and (b) presented in a sequence from high to low similarity • Because of the spatial nature of fault identification, we examine the contribution of spatial skill • Because some participants may have geology course experience, we also examine the contribution of background geology experience

  14. Materials Two images clipped from a larger photo, one containing fault, the other not Fault No fault

  15. Method • 64 Intro Psych students • 10 similar & 10 dissimilar pairs (No feedback on responses) Progressive alignment Dissimilar first

  16. Method • Spatial ability test: Water level • Geo experience questionnaire (10 Qs): • Previous courses in geology? • Interested in geology and other Earth sciences? • etc… http://viz.bd.psu.edu/viz/; Liben, 1991; Vasta & Liben, 1995

  17. Results: Effects of condition Does progressive alignment lead to higher performance? May depend on background experience

  18. Results: Spatial skills Do spatial skills predict performance?

  19. Results: Geoscience experience What knowledge led to higher performance? • 17 participants explained the information they used to search for and identify faults in images • 2 main types of information present in responses: use of cracks/fractures, and use of movement/displacement of layers

  20. Ongoing research • More initial instruction that explicitly distinguishes faults from fractures may be especially beneficial for novices • e.g., diagrams, photos, or simulations of faults Fault Fracture, No fault • Examine eye movements to observe processing (search and • comparison) in more detail (with T. Shipley and colleagues at Temple) • - Does people compare the similar images more often? • - Does comparison relate to higher performance? • Using sketched materials to maximize alignability of pairs