Reducing Cognitive Load in Learning by Analogy

  •  Lindsey Richland    
  •  Janice Hansen    


The ability to draw connections between concepts, problems, or representations is crucial to mathematical
proficiency, though teachers face challenges in capitalizing on classroom opportunities to develop such
connected thinking. An experiment with fifth-grade students tests theoretically grounded cuing strategies for
supporting learning from instructional analogies. Posttest results indicate that an analogy between division of
natural numbers and rational numbers improved students’ proficiency in dividing fractions regardless of the
addition of analogical cuing strategies, but that the additional cuing led to more conceptual, flexible problem
solving. These cuing strategies may be effective ways to enhance students’ ability to draw connections across
mathematics and capitalize on classroom learning opportunities.

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