Effects of prior assistance in using analogies on young children's unprompted analogical problem solving over time: A microgenetic study

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Various studies on analogical problem solving have shown that children can be taught to use analogies within a single session, but it is not known whether they can be taught a strategy for using analogical problem solving that persists over a period of time.


Our study focused on the effects of prior assistance in analogy use on children's unprompted analogical problem solving over time.


Participants were 144, 5- to 7-year-old children from kindergarten and grade 1.


A four-session microgenetic procedure was used. A number of children were given assistance in using analogies 1 week before the experiment started. Their analogy use over time was examined and compared with peers without such experiences.

Results and Conclusions.

The results indicate that prior assistance in using analogies has a beneficial effect, which may last for several weeks, on analogical problem solving in children aged 6–7 years or even younger. The study also showed the use of analogies in the absence of instructions, and variability in task behaviour in all groups. Since these findings may have implications for instructional practice, the authors recommend a novel study in an educational environment and with tasks from a more educational domain.

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