One of the goals of modern education theory is to unlock the secrets of metacognition. How do we examine the things we examine? In this article, I wanted to share one of the tricks I've used both as a result of reflecting on my own metacognitive processes and likewise simply because of what I have learned from students.
The situation is the three lines of defence against disease. Most students would like to examine roughly these at some stage and they can be quite complex and hard to recall. One factor that is fairly well accepted is that linking something new with something familiar is more likely to ensure it will be found again when it's miles required. This is the beauty of analogies. Analogies take something familiar and wrap it around something unfamiliar so we are more likely to recall it.
The analogy I use for the three lines of defence against disease is a membership located inside a fenced off property, protected by a dog.
The fence is like the first line of defence. It is a physical barrier. It may occasionally develop a weak point, or even a hole and you may even be able to climb over it with a little effort. It may have a gate or two which might open occasionally, so if you are quick, that you are likely to sneak through. For most reasons, this parallels the first line of defence; the skin and mucous membranes. Like the fence they are a physical (or chemical) barrier and like the fence they can occasionally be breached, either through natural openings or by temporary holes that are opened up.
The dog is like the 2nd line of defence. The dog is not particularly nice, except to anybody he recognises. Anyone he would not recognise he attacks. Lots of noise and angry growling will be produced and he will chase you around till he catches you or sees you off. The response here is a non specific response like the phagocytes within the 2nd line of defence. Phagocytes are a kind of white blood cell. Their response is simply to attack anything recognised as foreign. The angry inflammatory response (redness) often accompanies this response (like the barking dog).
If you are making it past the fence and the dog, you reach the door of the membership. Here you are met by roughly a bouncers. This is the final element of our analogy. This membership has an age restriction, so the bouncers are checking ID. The bouncers not most effective identify you ahead of they let you in, or lock you out, they also remember. If you get turned away once and you try and enter again, they recognise you more quickly and are more vigourous with their 2nd response. This is the same as what happens within the third line of defence. B and T lymphocytes (different types of white blood cells) are involved. They have a coordinated response, often work together and the response is specific. In addition memory cells are generated so a re-exposure to the same pathogen will trigger the body to respond more quickly and strongly (this is the reason why immunisation has been so a success in essentially eradicating some horrific childhood diseases).
Providing students with opportunities to examine science in different ways motivates them to work a little harder, especially with the relevance of understanding what is going down inside their own bodies. Using analogies as a memory aid is just one tool within the box. It is an imperfect one and any lingering examination of the analogy will swiftly identify its limitations. But this is also a key element of the learning training. Examining any brand for its limitations encourages students to think deeply ample roughly the topic to comprehend why something may tell part but not the total story.
Understanding how our students examine and how we can make use of techniques and technologies for science education will improve the outcomes for both the students and their teachers. This is the value of integrating technology into learning. It provides another opportunity to combine the familiar with the less familiar to create an enjoyable and meaningful feel for students. Put simply, it helps make learning fun.