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Core process in human cognition Important in scientific discovery PowerPoint Presentation
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Core process in human cognition Important in scientific discovery

Core process in human cognition Important in scientific discovery

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Core process in human cognition Important in scientific discovery

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  1. Analogy • Core process in human cognition • Important in scientific discovery Bohr-Rutherford, 1904 Kepler, 1596 Atom -- Solar System Sun’s motive force -- Light

  2. Analogical processes promote learning • Arriving at a structural alignment enables further outcomes: • Highlighting & abstracting common structure • Making a further inference • Noticing alignable differences •  Learning by contrast

  3. Analogy fosters new spatial inferences MANTLE hotter lower density RISES OIL hotter lower density RISES Inference Clement & Gentner, 1991; Medin, Goldstone & Gentner, 1993

  4. Using close comparisons to teach a basic principle of engineering Collaborators: Sonica Dhillon, Ashley Poltermann, Raedy Ping, Susan Levine, Garrett Honke

  5. Structural alignment highlights common structure and alignable differences Common structure -- (Abstraction) Alignable difference Alignable differences = differences that play the same role in the common system Markman & Gentner, 1993, 1996; Gentner & Markman, 1994; Gentner & Sagi, 2006;

  6. Using Close Comparisons to Highlight DifferencesResearch at the Chicago Children’s Museum • Activity: Child builds a ‘skyscraper’ with family • Free-form construction activity • Problem: Buildings often collapse – Children fail to use diagonal braces

  7. The brace principle: A key principle of stable construction • Diagonal braces provide stability Stable Stable Unstable Therefore, to achieve stable construction, use diagonals

  8. High Alignability “Which one do you think is stronger?” [Child guesses] “OK, now see if you can wiggle them” [The building with the diagonal does not bend.] “Now which do you think is stronger?” “Yes, this one is strong! It doesn’t wobble because it is stable.” Teaching the Brace Principle Low Alignability Two-minute alignment task Regardless of child’s answer

  9. After training, two tasks 1. Construction Task: Children & families build skyscraper Result: More use of diagonal braces for Comparison groups than for No-Training group 2. Repair Task: Given to each child individually

  10. Repair task results: Comparison helps; especially High-Alignment comparison “This building is wobbly. Can you show me where to put this piece to make it strong?” Proportion diagonals on repair task Comparison > No training * High Align > Low Align * 6 7 8 (n=132) (48) (48) (36)

  11. Analogical comparison is a powerful learning process Even a single brief comparison experience can lead to learning

  12. Analogical comparison is a powerful learning process Even a single brief comparison experience can lead to learning But the youngest group did not succeed. Can we increase the power of analogy?

  13. Combining language with analogyto help younger children learn the brace principle Phase 1: Replicate Children’s Museum study in lab Age: 5 ½ - 7 ½ High Alignability Low Alignability

  14. Phase 1 – High Alignment > Low Alignment (replicating Museum study) Repair Task: “Can you show me where to put this piece to make it strong?”

  15. Phase 2– Adding a Linguistic Label After a delay, we again ask the child “Do you remember which one is strong?” -- Language Gp: “Yes! This one has a brace” -- Control Gp: “Yes! This one is strong.” • Overall Design: 2x2 • Alignability (High vs. Low) • Language (Label vs. Control)

  16. Combining language with structural alignment Transfer Test: “Which one is stronger?”

  17. Language amplifies structural alignment “Which one is stronger?” Proportion correct 100% of 6 ½ year olds given High Alignment + Language succeed! Low Align. High Align.

  18. Summary • Analogical comparison facilitates learning and understanding • For beginners, highly similar examples are more helpful than less similar examples • Language can guide children to notice key commonalities and differences

  19. Conclusions • Not only is comparison effective, but it is a natural process that engages children’s curiosity • Teachers and parents can use comparison processes to help children discover important principles AND increase their sense of the joy of discovery