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

  • Alexandra Fredriksson
  • Susanne Pelger


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.


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



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.


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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceLund UniversityLundSweden

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