Teaching Tools

Analogy Mapping

Because all learning involves developing a transfer of relationships among ideas or phenomena, analogies play an important role in science and education. They allow us to illustrate abstract concepts, to transfer overarching principles between content, and to use our understanding of familiar phenomena in order to understand new phenomena.

Our content anchors also reflect the importance of comparisons and analogies in evolutionary anthropology, behavioral and sustainability science. The discussion of analogies and use of analogy maps in the classroom fosters networked learning and learning transfer.

Explicit comparisons guide students to relate the topics and concepts covered in the classroom materials to everyday and societal issues.

For example:

  • What are the similarities and differences in the environmental conditions and characteristics of humans and other species?

  • What are the similarities and differences in challenges to our ancestors' survival and today's challenges of sustainable development?

  • What are the similarities and differences in the behaviors of people of different ages and socio-cultural backgrounds?

  • What are the similarities and differences in the conditions, observed behaviors, and outcomes of a behavioral experiment and in the real world?

  • What are the similarities and differences in the conditions, observed behaviors, and outcomes in a computer simulation and in the real world?

  • What are the similarities and differences in the evolution of living things and the present and future cultural evolution of humanity?

  • What are the similarities and differences in the evolution of living things and the development of our own behaviors and thoughts over our lifetimes?

  • What are the similarities and differences between different sustainability problems in the world and at different levels of society?

Analogy mapping, either formally in writing or through guided classroom discussion, can help us to reflect on answers to these questions.

Examples of our teaching materials that use analogy maps:

Learn more about the importance of transfer of learning here:

Check our more teaching materials and ideas for lesson development here: