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dc.contributor.authorThiele, Rodney B.
dc.contributor.supervisorProfessor Patrick Garnett
dc.contributor.supervisorAssoc. Professor David Treagust

This thesis reports a series of studies into textbook authors', teachers' and students' use of analogies to improve students' understanding of abstract chemistry concepts. The five research problems considered: (a) the nature and extent of analogy use in textbooks; (b) the views of textbook authors and editors concerning analogies; (c) how, when, and why analogies were used by experienced chemistry teachers; (d) the development of an instrument to determine chemistry students' understanding of analogies; and (e) how chemistry students use the analogies presented as part of their chemistry instruction.Study One reports the findings of an investigation of ten chemistry textbooks used by Australian students for the nature and extent of analogy inclusion. The study found that, while used sparingly, analogies were employed more frequently in the beginning of textbooks and that the analogies used concrete analog domains to describe abstract target concepts. There was considerable use of pictorial-verbal analogies although simple analogies comprised a substantial proportion and stated limitations or warnings were infrequently employed.Study Two involved interviews with the authors of eight of the above mentioned textbooks to determine authors' views on analogies and their use in textbooks and teaching. The study identified a relationship between how frequently analogies were used by the author and what he or she considered to be the characteristics of a good chemistry teacher. Each author had a good understanding of the nature of analogy and each sought a flexible environment for its use - most arguing that analogies are better used by teachers than printed in textbooks. They appeared to favour analogies embedded in text or placed in margins rather than as post-synthesisers or advance organisers.Study Three reports an investigation into six chemistry teachers' use of analogies in Western Australia and England. This study found that the teachers drew upon their experiences and professional reading as sources of the analogies that tended to be spontaneously used when they felt their students had not understood an explanation. The analogies tended to map functional attributes of abstract target concepts with some teachers using the blackboard to illustrate pictorial analogies and some including statements of limitations.Study Four describes the development of analogy maps - instruments used to determine the effectiveness with which students map given analogies. The iterative development process engaged classroom-based research methods to develop an instrument of value both for teaching and for school-related research. A rating system enables researchers to compare students' effectiveness at mapping analogies with variables such as analogy type.Studies Five and Six describe how a combination of interviews and analogy map surveys were used to investigate how students used analogies in chemistry. The study found that students felt more confident with pictorial-verbal analogies although they were not necessarily able to map these analogies better than verbal (only) analogies. Also, student mapping confidence appeared not to depend upon the level of enrichment supplied and added enrichment did not necessarily aid mapping performance. Further, the analogy maps were useful as a means to identify alternative conceptions and there was little evidence that the analogy maps contributed to the formation of alternative conceptions in the learners.The final chapter draws together and discusses the assertions made in all of the previous studies before considering the contribution of the thesis to theory building. The implications of the research are discussed and suggestions made for future research on analogies in chemistry education. The chapter concludes by outlining examples of how and where the findings of this research have begun to be disseminated.

dc.publisherCurtin University
dc.subjecthigh school
dc.subjecttextbook authors
dc.subjectchemistry students
dc.subjectchemistry teachers
dc.subjectchemistry education
dc.titleTextbook authors', teachers' and students' use of analogies in the teaching and learning of senior high school chemistry
curtin.thesisTypeTraditional thesis
curtin.departmentScience and Mathematics Education Centre
curtin.accessStatusOpen access

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