Analogies provide lecturers with a tool that uses examples from real life and everyday experiences to help students understand scientific concepts and phenomena that are often, neither observable, nor, easy to imagine, by comparing or illustrating them with something that is recognizable, or to a concept with which they are familiar. Metaphors and analogical demonstrations can be particularly useful tools, for teaching chemistry because this field of science requires the mastering of many abstract concepts and complex counterintuitive phenomena.
Analogies can be used to teach abstract concepts using concrete examples. Of course, analogies have their limitations and we must keep in mind that they may on occasion lead students to develop misconceptions. Only, when students understand the target concept and the significance and limitations of the analogy, will effective learning be likely to be achieved.
The use of analogies in teaching is a straightforward, challenging and enjoyable activity, but the wise teacher must choose analogies appropriate to the current knowledge of the audience.Original author: Miltiades (Milt) Karayannis