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Abstract

This study examined the effects of visual analogies on learner outcomes in Phonology for ESL Teachers, a challenging course within a master’s degree program at a prominent university in the southeastern United States. To reduce student anxiety, facilitate Saturday classes, and bridge from the known to the unknown, concrete images (train cars) were used to represent abstract ideas. Data were analyzed from course evaluations and exams of 70 students in two non-analogy courses (2004, 2005) and 114 students in three analogy-based courses (2007, 2008, 2009) and from an electronic survey completed by 64 former students (September 2009). Course evaluations improved, exam scores increased significantly, and participants reported significant increases in their use of visual analogies when teaching. Additional qualitative and quantitative data also suggested that the use of visual analogies positively influenced satisfaction, learning, and impact on teacher pedagogy. This study offers implications for instruction, assessment, and research.

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