To learn by means of analogies, students have to see surface and deep structures in both source and target domains. Educators generally assume that students, presented with images, texts, video, or demonstrations, see what the curriculum designer intends them to see, that is, pick out and integrate information into their existing understanding. However, there is evidence that students do not see what they are supposed to see, which precisely inhibits them to learn what they are supposed to learn. In this extended case study, which exemplifies a successful multimedia application, 3 classroom episodes are used (a) to show how students in an advanced physics course do not see relevant information on the computer monitor; (b) to exemplify teaching strategies designed to allow relevant structures to become salient in students’ perception, allowing them to generate analogies and thereby learn; and (c) to exemplify how a teacher might assist students in bridging from the multimedia context to the real world.
In this study, I report and analyze ongoing classroom conversations that occur over and about computer simulations, teacher-student transactions, and the emergence of productive analogies from teacher-student-computer transactions. Although the students begin with seeing physical phenomena (produced by a simulation on a computer monitor) in non-scientific ways, they eventually come to see them, as a result of the particular configuration, to see them in scientific ways. They do so by producing analogies that constitute bridges to scientific ways of seeing and understanding. Analogies, however, constitute double-edged swords, as they require and are based on the identification of common structures in some source (base) domain and the target (scientific) domain. But the second domain precisely is unknown to students. In this section, I briefly