An analysis of the process of analogical thinking predicts that analogies will be noticed on the basis of semantic retrieval cues and that the induction of a general schema from concrete analogs will facilitate analogical transfer. These predictions were tested in experiments in which subjects first read one or more stories illustrating problems and their solutions and then attempted to solve a disparate but analagous transfer problem. The studies in Part I attempted to foster the abstraction of a problem schema from a single story analog by means of summarization instructions, a verbal statement of the underlying principle, or a diagrammatic representation of it. None of these devices achieved a notable degree of success. In contrast, the experiments in Part II demonstrated that if two prior analogs were given, subjects often derived a problem schema as an incidental product of describing the similarities of the analogs. The quality of the induced schema was highly predictive of subsequent transfer performance. Furthermore, the verbal statements and diagrams that had failed to facilitate transfer from one analog proved highly beneficial when paired with two. The function of examples in learning was discussed in light of the present study.
- Prof Dev