Frozen in the Past: When it Comes to Analogy Fears, It's Time for Us to "let it Go"

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Computer Science


Within computer science education research, analogy work has been relatively unexplored and in some cases, even discouraged. For a learning and reasoning tool that is so widely used in our discipline - from instructors and peer groups to the interfaces we encourage students to program on - it is beyond time to address the perception of analogy in our field. In this position paper we briefly overview relevant cognition and learning literature, summarize applications of analogy across several other STEM disciplines, and compare research and perception of analogy within computing education. Further, we explore some of analogy's potential as a tool which can allow for highly personal, relevant learning that may even assist in development of a sense of belonging or computing identity. These arguments highlight a fundamental difference in the attitude within our field toward analogy versus that of other STEM disciplines. We aim to understand the differences by exploring the themes behind the concern surrounding the use of analogy in our discipline. In addition, we provide suggestions for how we may address these concerns in order to advance research into the use of analogy in computing education to determine if indeed analogy can enhance student learning.

Publication Title

Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ITiCSE