Dissertation Abstracts

A Study of the Emotional Essence of Analogical Reasoning in Secondary School Science

Author: James P. Davis, JamesDavis88@gmail.com
Department: Faculty of Education
University: Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Supervisor: Dr Alberto Bellocchi
Year of completion: 2016
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: emotion , analogy , science education , ethnomethodology
Areas of Research: Education , Body in the Social Sciences , Science and Technology


My topic for this study addresses the inter-relationships between two complex phenomena fundamental to human understanding: emotion and analogical reasoning (Hume, 1777/2007). In the context of secondary school science a relationship between these two phenomena has been barely considered as an area of research interest. This is reflected in a paucity of literature on the combined topics of emotion and analogy. Analogical reasoning in science education is represented in the literature predominately as a cognitive process with considerable influence from the theory of structure mapping (Gentner, 1983; Glynn 1994a). The dominant cognitive perspective of analogical reasoning was embedded into the field of science education by the extensive work of Shawn Glynn (1994a), with a pedagogical model called the Teaching-with-Analogies (TWA) model. The TWA model is underpinned by the theory of structure mapping that together, portray analogical reasoning from an expert perspective, where analogy and its constituent concepts tend to be treated as fixed objects. Knowledge of these objects is viewed as transferable from expert to novice via the cognitive process of analogical reasoning. Importantly, this cognitive theoretical perspective does not treat emotion as a relevant factor in understanding analogical reasoning. In contrast, my study treated knowledge about objects as emergent within localized classroom situations, and contingent upon constituent practices of social interaction. I sourced data from small group interactions during science inquiry lessons involving analogical reasoning. I described data via a methodological orientation informed by Garfinkel’s (1967) ethnomethodology, and analyzed data using a theoretical framework informed by Collins’s (2004) conceptualization of emotional energy, underpinned by the microsociology of Durkheim (1912/1915). This study makes important contributions to science education with the development of key theoretical and methodological outcomes. The methodological innovations in this study build on notions of undramatic emotional energy (Collins, 2004) that I have demonstrated to be accessible in science education research via the use of an ethnomethodological orientation to inform my methodology. The development of this notion of undramatic emotional energy has implications for future research and theory development in the fields of science education and the sociology of emotion. My key theoretical innovation in this study is the outline of a foundation for a sociological theory of analogical reasoning I have describe as enacted analogical reasoning. My dissertation outlines detailed descriptions and analyses of micro-social practices that have enabled the definition of key ideas as constituents of the fundamental human phenomenon I call enacted analogical reasoning. These ideas, including the involvement of undramatic emotional energy, form a basis for future research, and the development of a coherent theory of enacted analogical reasoning. By outlining this theoretical foundation, my study points to future impacts on science teacher education and teaching practice that may address the limitations of cognitive approaches to analogical reasoning in school science contexts.

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