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Encouraging conceptual change: the use of bridging analogies in the teaching of action-reaction forces and the 'at rest' condition in physics : the use of bridging analogies in the teaching of action-reaction forces and the 'at rest' condition in physics

Bryce, Tom and MacMillan, Kenneth (2005) Encouraging conceptual change: the use of bridging analogies in the teaching of action-reaction forces and the 'at rest' condition in physics : the use of bridging analogies in the teaching of action-reaction forces and the 'at rest' condition in physics. International Journal of Science Education, 27 (6). pp. 737-763. ISSN 0950-0693

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Abstract

The qualitative study described in this paper examined the effectiveness of bridging analogies intended to bring about conceptual change as part of a constructivist approach to teaching about action-reaction forces in the 'at rest' condition in physics. Twenty-one 15-year-old students were involved in the investigation with subgroups previously exposed to different information regarding forces, weight and the accepted cause of the reaction force, in simple physical arrangements, including objects on tables. In-depth 'think aloud' interviews were used to track each student's conceptual status as they worked with bridging analogies and transcript coding was carried out using open and axial coding (as in a grounded theory methodology). The findings showed that the bridging analogies were effective in engaging students with the idea of action-reaction forces; students were adept in mapping each of the analogies to the target concept and using them to generate and refine their causal theories for the reaction force. There was evidence to suggest that, for some students, bridging analogies were more effective in bringing about conceptual change than didactic teaching. Their use extends beyond illustrative purposes and supports the development of meta-cognitive skills.