Using Analogies to Teach Negative Reflex Control Systems to Medical Students

E. Lulis, M. Evens, and J. Michael (USA)


Control education, analogy, instructional planning, and natural language dialog


The goal of this paper is to understand how human tutors employ analogies in teaching medical students to understand the baroreceptor reflex and help them learn to use causal qualitative reasoning to solve problems involving negative reflex control systems. We describe the use of analogies in a corpus consisting of eighty-one one-on-one hour-long tutoring sessions with first-year medical students. Analogies were not very common, but had a positive effect on improving student comprehension of the topics tutored. This paper addresses how to respond when the student does not understand the analogy or does not make the correct inference and how to avert possible misconceptions by giving the student an accurate picture of the scope of the analogy. In addition to the intrinsic interest in this question of how to help students comprehend one of the issues that they find particularly difficult in an already taxing curriculum, we hope eventually to implement analogies in an intelligent tutoring system called CIRCSIM-Tutor designed to teach this material by engaging the student in a tutorial dialogue. Also discussed is how the choice of analogies to implement and the rules for when to employ those analogies.

Important Links:

Go Back