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Analogical Reasoning in the Classroom: Insights From Cognitive Science

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Applying knowledge from one context to another is a notoriously difficult problem, both for children and adults, but lies at the heart of educational endeavors. Analogical reasoning is a cognitive underpinning of the ability to notice and draw similarities across contexts. Reasoning by analogy is especially challenging for students, who must transfer in the context-rich and often high-pressure settings of classrooms. In this brief article, we explore how best to facilitate children's analogical reasoning, with the aim of providing practical suggestions for classroom instruction. We first discuss what is known about the development and neurological underpinnings of analogical reasoning, and then review research directly relevant to supporting analogical reasoning in classroom contexts. We conclude with concrete suggestions for educators that may foster their students' spontaneous analogical reasoning and thereby enhance scholastic achievement.

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