Conceptual Blending Monitoring Students’ Use of Metaphorical Concepts to Further the Learning of Science

Article
  • 31 Downloads

Abstract

The aim of this study is to explore how tertiary science students’ use of metaphors in their popular science article writing may influence their understanding of subject matter. For this purpose, six popular articles written by students in physics or geology were analysed by means of a close textual analysis and a metaphor analysis. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the students. The articles showed variation regarding the occurrence of active (non-conventional) metaphors, and metaphorical concepts, i.e. metaphors relating to a common theme. In addition, the interviews indicated that students using active metaphors and metaphorical concepts reflected more actively upon their use of metaphors. These students also discussed the possible relationship between subject understanding and creation of metaphors in terms of conceptual blending. The study suggests that students’ process of creating metaphorical concepts could be described and visualised through integrated networks of conceptual blending. Altogether, the study argues for using conceptual blending as a tool for monitoring and encouraging the use of adequate metaphorical concepts, thereby facilitating students’ opportunities of understanding and influencing the learning of science.

Keywords

Natural science Education Metaphorical concepts Conceptual blending Metaphor analysis Semi-structured interview Metaphor Popular science writing Learning 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Anders Eriksson, Associate professor in Rhetoric, for valuable discussions during the study and helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Many thanks to Jennifer Lööfgren as well, Genombrottet, Faculty of Engineering, Lund University, for valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Lastly, we also thank Professor Helena Alexanderson, Professor in Quaternary Sciences, and Ashley Gumsley, Doctoral student in Lithosphere and Biosphere Science, for clarifying comments on geology content in the surveyed students’ texts and interview answers.

References

  1. Aristotle. (2007). On rhetoric: a theory of civic discourse (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Baxter, P., & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative case study methodology: study design and implementation for novice researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13(4), 544–559.Google Scholar
  3. Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1987). The psychology of written composition. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  4. Bergström, G., & Boréus, K. (2005). Lingvistisk textanalys (Textual analysis). In G. Bergström & K. Boréus (Eds.), Textens mening och makt: metodbok i samhällsvetenskaplig text- och diskursanalys. (The purpose and power of the text: methodology about social studies’ text and discourse analyses) (pp. 263–304). Studentlitteratur: Lund.Google Scholar
  5. Biggs, J. B. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university: what the student does (2nd ed.). London: The Society for Research into Higher Education.Google Scholar
  6. Black, M. (1962). Models and metaphors: studies in language and philosophy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, A. L., Bransford, J. D., Ferrara, R. A., & Campione, J. C. (1983). Learning, remembering, and understanding. In P. H. Mussen (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 77–166). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  8. Browne, S. H. (2009). Close textual analysis: approaches and applications. In T. A. Kuypers (Ed.), Rhetorical criticism: perspectives in action (pp. 63–76). Lanham: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  9. Burkholder, T. R., & Henry, D. (2009). Criticism of metaphor. In T. A. Kuypers (Ed.), Rhetorical criticism: perspectives in action (pp. 97–116). Lanham: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  10. Burns, T. W., O’Connor, D. J., & Stocklmayer, S. M. (2003). Science communication: a contemporary definition. Public Understanding of Science, 12, 183–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Caine, R. N., et al. (Eds.). (2009). 12 brain/mind learning principles in action: developing executive functions of the human brain (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.Google Scholar
  12. CODEX – rules and guideline for research (updated in Nov 2016) (2017). http://www.codex.vr.se/en/manniska2.shtml, Accessed 21 February.
  13. Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2007). Research methods in education. London: Routledge Falmer.Google Scholar
  14. Dewey, J. (1933/1960). How we think: a restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston: Heath.Google Scholar
  15. Duit, R. (1991). On the role of analogies and metaphors in learning sciences. Science Education, 75(6), 649–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dysthe, O., Hertzberg, F., & Hoel, T. L. (2011). Skriva för att lära: skrivande i högre utbildning. (Writing to learn: writing in higher education) (2., [rev.] ed.). Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  17. Eriksson, A. (2014). Metaforens makt över tanken i det politiska språket (The metaphor’s power over thoughts in political language). In O. Fischer, J. Viklund, & P. Mehrens (Eds.), Retorisk kritik (Rhetorical criticism) (pp. 103–118). Ödåkra: Retorikförlaget.Google Scholar
  18. Fahnestock, J. (2011). Rhetorical style: the uses of language in persuasion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fauconnier, G., & Turner, M. (2002). The way we think: conceptual blending and the mind’s hidden complexities. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  20. Fredriksson, A. & Pelger, S. (2016) Metaphorical concepts in molecular biology student’s texts - a way to improve subject-matter understanding. NorDiNa, 12(1), 90–106.Google Scholar
  21. Gärdenfors, P. (2010). Lusten att förstå: om lärande på människans villkor (Wanting to understand: about learning on a human being’s conditions). Stockholm: Natur & kultur.Google Scholar
  22. Gärdenfors, P., & Lindström, P. (2008). Understanding by experiencing patterns. In P. Gärdenfors & A. Wallin (Eds.), A smorgasbord of cognitive science (pp. 149–164). Nora: Nya Doxa.Google Scholar
  23. Glebkin, V. (2015). Is conceptual blending the key to the mystery of human evolution and cognition? Cognitive Linguistics, 26(1), 95–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Glynn, S. M. (1989). The teaching with analogies model. In K. D. Muth (Ed.), Children’s comprehension of text: research into practice (pp. 185–204). Newark: International Reading Association.Google Scholar
  25. Goatly, A. (1997). The language of metaphors. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Haglund, J. (2013). Självgenererade analogier stöder lärande (Self-generated analogies supports learning). In J. Haglund & F. Jeppsson (Eds.), Modeller, analogier och metaforer i naturvetenskapsundervisning (Models, analogies and metaphors in natural science education) (pp. 185–199). Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  27. Hedberg, D. A., Haglund, J. A., Jeppsson, F. A., & Uppsala University, T. O. (2015). Metaforer och analogier inom termodynamik i kemiläroböcker för gymnasiet (Metaphors and analogies in thermodynamics in chemistry textbooks). NorDiNa, 11(1), 102–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Helstrup, T., & Kaufmann, G. (2000). Kognitiv psykologi (Cognitive psychology). Bergen: Fagbokforlaget.Google Scholar
  29. Jeppsson, F. (2013). Begreppsliga metaforer i studenters dialog (Conceptual metaphors in students’ dialogues). In F. Jeppsson & J. Haglund (Eds.), Modeller, analogier och metaforer i naturvetenskapsundervisning (Models, analogies and metaphors in natural science education) (pp. 155–166). Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  30. Keys, C. W. (1999). Revitalizing instruction in scientific genres: connecting knowledge production with writing to learn in science. Science Education, 83(2), 115–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kvale, S. (1997). Den kvalitativa forskningsintervjun (The qualitative research interview). Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  32. Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (2003[1980]). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  33. Langer, J. A., & Applebee, A. N. (1987). How writing shapes thinking: a study of teaching and learning. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English. Report No. 22.Google Scholar
  34. Lemke, J. L. (1990). Talking science: language, learning, and values. Norwood: Ablex.Google Scholar
  35. Linell, P. (1994). Transkription av tal och samtal: teori och praktik (Transcription of speech and conversation: theory and practice). Linköping: Univ., Tema kommunikation.Google Scholar
  36. Mason, L., & Boscolo, P. (2000). Writing and conceptual change. What changes? Instructional Science, 28(3), 199–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Norrby, C. (2014). Samtalsanalys: så gör vi när vi pratar med varandra (Conversation analysis: what we do when talking to each other) (3rd, [rev.] ed.). Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  38. Olander, C. (2009). Towards an interlanguage of biological evolution: exploring students’ talk and writing as an arena for sense-making. Diss. Göteborg: Göteborg University, 2010. Göteborg.Google Scholar
  39. Pelger, S. (2017) Popular Science Writing Bringing New Perspectives into Science Students' Theses. International Journal of Sciene Education part B.  https://doi.org/10.1080/21548455.2017.1371355.
  40. Pelger, S. & Nilsson, P. (2016). Popular science writing to support students’ learning of science and scientific literacy. Research in Science Education. Springer.Google Scholar
  41. Pelger, S., Santesson, S., & Josefsson, G. (2009). Naturvetare skriver populärvetenskap, [Natural science students write popular science]. Lund: Lärande Lund, Lund University.Google Scholar
  42. Perrault, S. T. (2013). Communicating popular science: from deficit to democracy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Reynolds, J. A., Thaiss, C., Katkin, W., & Thompson Jr., R. J. (2012). Writing-to-learn in undergraduate science education: a community-based, conceptually driven approach. CBE Life Sciences Education, 11(1), 17–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Richards, I. A. (1976). The philosophy of rhetoric. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Rundgren, C-J. (2008). Visual thinking, visual speech: a semiotic perspective on meaning-making in molecular life science: how visualizations, metaphors and help-words contribute to the formation of knowledge about proteins among upper secondary and tertiary level students. Diss. Linköping: Linköping University.Google Scholar
  46. Schön, D. A. (1993). Generative metaphor: a perspective on problem-setting in social policy. In A. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and thought (2nd ed., pp. 137–163). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Strömdahl, H. (2012). On discerning critical elements, relationships and shift in attaining scientific terms: the challenge of polysemy/homonymy and reference. Science & Education, 21(1), 55–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Swedish Code of Statutes (SFS 1993:100). Higher Education Ordinance.Google Scholar
  49. Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). The collected works of L.S. Vygotsky. Vol. 1, Problems of general psychology including the volume thinking and speech. New York: Plenum P.Google Scholar
  50. Wolrath Söderberg, M. (2012). Topos som meningsskapare: retorikens topiska perspektiv på tänkande och lärande genom argumentation (Sense making by topos: topical perspectives on thinking and learning through argumentation in rhetoric). Diss. Örebro: Örebro University, 2012. Ödåkra.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceLund UniversityLundSweden

Personalised recommendations