The facilitatory effect of negative feedback on the emergence of analogical reasoning abilities

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the development of analogical reasoning abilities in 5- and 6-year-old children. Our particular interest relates to the way in which analogizing is influenced by the provision of task-based feedback coupled with a self-explanation requirement. Both feedback and self-explanation provide children with opportunities to engage in self-reflective thinking about the process of analogical reasoning. To examine the role of such metacognitive factors in analogical strategy development the reported study combined a proportional analogy paradigm with a small-scale microgenetic approach involving multiple testing sessions over a restricted time period. The key manipulation involved exposing participants either to the correct or incorrect analogy completions of another reasoner that they were then asked to explain. The data revealed that the development of an effective analogizing strategy embodying a ‘relational shift’ from superficial to relational responding was modulated by the feedback condition that the child was placed in, with a negative feedback intervention providing the greatest developmental benefit. We suggest that the value of negative feedback for the acquisition of analogical reasoning abilities derives from the way in which a self-reflective analysis of the reasons for erroneous responses sensitizes the child to a deeper understanding of how to make effective relational mappings.

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