Core Mechanics – Week 1.2 – Class Notes

(insert class slides here)


  • Applying a skill learned in one context in a different one
  • Relational reasoning must occur to overcome different surface features.
  • For it to occur, one must be able to understand the underlying structure or “deep features”.

Negative Transfer – when you use a ‘learned’ skill in an analogous situation incorrectly.


  • How to increase creativity using analogies?
    • Analogies in scientific discovery are usefull to tangibilize abstract concepts
      • Kepler – speed of planets to derive gravity
      • Dunbar – biological analogies
  • Strong prior knowledge is essential for creating effective analogies
    • Learning facts therefore sometimes is needed

Exercise: create analogies for the following:

  • A robbed safe
    • A pearl removed from a closed shell – NA
    • A person who’s lover has left – HQ
    • A hacked database – NA
  • A light bulb blowing out
    • A candle extinguished by the wind
    • A tire popping flat
    • Collapsing while running a marathon
    • An overheated engine
  • A budding cocoon
    • A flower blossoming
    • A transformative chemical reaction
    • A chick being born
    • A sprouting seed

Structure coding of analogies:

“A robbed safe”

Not Analogical

  • Someone taking something out of a protected space
  • An empty box
  • A stolen wallet

Low Quality

  • Squrrel digging nuts
  • Expect something from computer and it’s broken, you can’t get it

High Quality

  • Cheating on a partner
  • Soldier coming back from war with PTSD


Asked people to create analogies, sitting or moving indoors or outdoors. From lowest to highest scores for High Quality Analogies:

  • Indoors – sitting
  • Indoors – walking
  • Outdoors – sitting
  • Outdoors – walking

So… study/create outside 🙂 Is that why Steve Jobs always had long walks as meetings?

From lowest to highest scores for Novelty of Analogies:

  • Indoors – sitting
  • Outdoors – sitting
  • Indoors – walking
  • Outdoors – walking

So… walking helps with novelty or divergent thinking.

=> Moving around outside improves creativity and thinking BUT most of Edcuation is done indoors with the students sitting around.

Analogy as a Core Mechanic for Transfer

Analogical Transfer

  • Initial learning – need to learn underlying structure of the base
  • Spontaneous access – need to be able to retrieve information

Example: The Radiation Problem

  • No previous story – 10% solved it
  • Spontaneous transfer – 30% solved it
  • Hint condition – 75% solved it

Method: Give them 1 analogue, 2 analogues and compare, principle, and/or diagram.

Result: 2 analogues + principle + diagram was the best. But mainly it is the 2 analogues that make the difference.

With 2 analogies, you are able to create a Schema to solve the problem.

But bad analogies can be dangerous leading to wrong schemas.