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Why science is hard to grasp

Welcome to the third week of Teaching Science at University! In this week we would like to show how invisible concepts become visible. In everyday life we learn so many things by comparing and contrasting. From research we know that the use of analogies and metaphors are important features in the scientific endeavor, and their use in teaching science seems a natural extension. We raise the question whether analogies are just excellent communication tools or if they can generate new knowledge. What do the majority of students really understand when analogies are used to explain abstract and difficult ideas such as molecular structures, diffusion, and plate tectonics? We show that It is important to consider students’ personal constructions since no student enters the lecture hall as “tabula rasa.” Science classrooms are common settings in which analogies are used to enhance concept learning; therefore, improving the way analogies are used in science education has important teaching and learning consequences. At the end of the third week you should be able to choose good analogies for teaching science and implement them fruitfully.

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