Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Science Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Hafner

Second Advisor

Dr. James Howell

Third Advisor

Dr. Larry Oppliger

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Robert Poel


The focus of this study was the effect of two analogies on the status of industrial technical center employees for three radiation science concept areas. The analogies used were of melting ice and falling tacks. The three radiation concept areas examined were radioactive material decay, radioactive material half-life, and radioactive material activity.

Forty-four adults participated in the study. Thirty-five of these participants took pre- and post-lesson multiple-choice tests to determine the effect that the analogies had on their intelligibility of the three radiation science concept areas. Nine participants also took pre- and post-lesson clinical interviews to assess their intelligibility, plausibility, and fruitfulness for the three radiation science concept areas. These interviews were audio taped and transcribed for interpretation utilizing subcategories of status in large part derived from the works of Thorley (1990,1991, 1992).

The two analogies were presented on transparencies during lecture presentation sessions. A melting-ice setup was demonstrated during the presentations. In addition, the participants were given an opportunity to individually take part in a falling-tacks exercise.

The study found that the use of the analogies resulted in increased statuses in all three concept areas. In addition, learning steps for the Decay-two concept were identified and associated with ancillary knowledge required to advance through the steps. The statuses that the learners held for this concept fluctuated as they progressed through the learning steps.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access