Research in physics teaching has supported the use of analogies as an effective instructional tool that can be used to facilitate students’ understanding of physics concepts. The effectiveness of analogies lies in that they allow students to form cognitive links between what they already know and what they are learning, harmoniously integrating, in this way, the new physics concepts into their existing knowledge. In this paper, it is suggested that analogies could be extended to provide physics teachers with a diagnostic form of assessment that can reveal both the misconceptions their students may hold, the prior knowledge upon which such misconceptions are based, as well as knowledge sources that can be productively used in the teaching process. This suggestion arises from the findings of a cross-age study in which students, from five different age groups, were asked to make predictions about a range of situations they had not previously encountered (novel situations) and explain the reasons that led them to make those predictions.

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