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School of Education Counseling and Psychology in Education


Analogical comparison, object similarity, structural alignment, interleaving, picture books, transfer


Cognitive Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Educational Psychology


Story picture books with examples can be used to teach young children science concepts. Learners can abstract relational information by comparing the analogical examples in the books, leading to a more abstract, transferrable understanding of the concept. The purpose of this study was to determine whether manipulating the content or arrangement of the examples included in a picture book would support children’s generalization and transfer of a relational concept, color camouflage. Eighty-one 3-year-olds and 80 4-year-olds were read one of 4 books at 2 visits, spaced approximately 1 week apart. Examples were manipulated in a 2 (high/low object similarity) by 2 (interleaved/blocked) design. At each visit, children were asked forced-choice questions with photographs (generalization) and real animals (transfer) and had to explain their choices. At the first visit, only 3-year-olds who had been read the high object similarity books displayed generalization and transfer. After they were read the same book again at the second visit, 3-year-olds in all conditions performed above chance on generalization questions but made more correct selections if they had been read the books with blocked examples. Four-year-olds showed no book-related differences on forced choice questions at either visit, but gave better explanations at the second visit if they had been read interleaved books. Our study provides evidence that picture books with analogical examples can be used to teach children about science, but that different types and arrangements of examples may better support children at different ages and with different amounts of prior experience.

Publication Title

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


This is a copy of the authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscript as accepted for publication in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

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