How do simulations contribute to scientific understanding? Insights from conceptual change and conceptual metaphor
Dr Tamer Amin, American University of Beirut
This seminar took place on 17th June 2019 at Moray House School of Education & Sport
How do simulations help learners understand abstract scientific concepts? We don’t have very good answers to this question. Some work on simulations, especially immersive experiences, has offered as an answer the general claim from the field of embodied cognition that abstract concepts are grounded in sensorimotor experiences. But this work doesn’t have specific accounts of how aspects of these experiences contribute to the understanding of specific scientific concepts. Other work has been formulated narrowly within a conceptual change perspective, and specific features of the designs of the simulations have been motivated by an analysis of learning challenges of specific concepts within explicitly articulated models of concept change. But this work has not embraced the assumptions of embodied cognition. In this presentation, I will present a view of conceptual change informed by conceptual metaphor theory that can help us integrate insights from both literatures. I argue that this can help us offer richer accounts of how simulations help learners understand abstract scientific concepts.
Tamer Amin is an Associate Professor of Science Education in the Department of Education and member of the Science and Mathematics Education Center (SMEC). Tamer Amin obtained an MA in Chemistry from Boston University and an MA and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Clark University. His research focuses on trying to understand the nature of scientific understanding and reasoning, how scientific concepts are learned and the implications of these processes for science education. A theme that runs through much of his work is the relationship between language and scientific thought with an emphasis on the use of metaphor in science. While his research targets issues in science education, it is conducted primarily from the perspective of cognitive developmental psychology, drawing extensively from the field of cognitive linguistics. In a parallel line of research, he examines the challenges multilingual contexts raise for science education in the Arab world.