This paper presents results of an experimental study to compare the effects of three modes of analogy presentation—verbal, pictorial and computer simulation. Two hundred and sixty-six ninth-standard students were randomly assigned to the three treatment conditions. Five pre-test and two post-test measure were obtained. The five pre-test measures were—prior achievement in language, prior achievement in chemistry, analogical reasoning ability, visualisation ability and an imagery test measuring how students pictorially represent gas molecules. The two post-tests were a parallel form of the imagery measure and an achievement test. Analysis of variance results indicated that the simulation group performed significantly better on post-imagery than the pictorial group. Measures of achievement did not show any significant differences. However, there were aptitude-treatment interactions between student’s analogical reasoning ability and pre-imagery with treatments.
Analogies are argued to be excellent pedagogic tools in teaching and learning difficult scientific concepts (Duit, 19911 and Stepich and Newby, 19882). The conceptualisation of human learning and memory as an information processing system offers an explanation to consider how analogies facilitate the acquisition of new knowledge. Central to this conception is prior knowledge which is organised and stored in learners memory and serves as a frame work (Mayer, 19803) for the acquisition of new knowledge (Ausubel, I9604). In this way prior knowledge is thought to mediate acquisition of new knowledge.