The Analogy as an Instructional and Motivational Design Strategy in Text

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Charles Reigeluth


Prior Knowledge, Instructional Design

Subject Categories



Empirical studies and intuition suggest that analogies can increase learning. Although analogies are commonly used in instructrion, little is known for whom and under what conditions they are most beneficial.

An analogy consists of two main parts--the topic (the new content) and the vehicle (familiar content to which the new content is compared). This study attempted to determine the effects of previous knowledge of both the vehicle and topic on learning, retention, and interest.

Ninety-two eighth grade students were administered a pretest on prior knowledge of the vehicle and the topic. They were then randomly assigned to four treatment groups and were asked to read a textbook-like chapter on electricity. The No Analogy treatment group received text that had a minimum of instructional design strategies and no analogies. The No Analogy+T treatment group received the same text with additional instructional design strategies such as examples and illustrations, but no analogies. The Analogy treatment group received the No Analogy text with enriched analogies added. The Analogy+V treatment group received the Analogy text with explanation of some vehicles added.

All students were administered the State Curiosity Scale, a measure or epistemic curiosity, and a topic posttest. Two weeks later they were given a topic retention test. Each test on the topic had four subscales.

A regression approach to analysis of covariance and correlational analysis were used to analyze the data. Hypothesis 1 predicted a significant interaction effect between vehicle prior knowledge and treatment for the two analogy groups only. Hypothesis 1 failed to be supported as stated.

Hypothesis 2 predicted a significant interaction effect between topic prior knowledge and treatment for the Analogy+V groups only. The data did not support Hypothesis 2 as stated.

Hypotheses 3 and 4 predicted significant three-way interactions for vehicle prior knowledge, topic prior knowledge, and treatment on both learning and affect. The predictions for both of these hypotheses also failed to be supported.

Additional qualitative data were collected through written essays and interviews and those results are reported. Recommendations for future methods of research on analogies are included.


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