Metaphors we teach by: A method for mapping metaphorical lay theories

AbstractPeople frequently use metaphors to communicate and reason about complex topics. However, many studies of metaphorical reasoning exclusively rely on researcher intuitions about different metaphors and their associated entailments. Here we describe a more principled method for mapping the structure of metaphorical lay theories, focusing on metaphors for teaching. Across two studies, we identified four common, apt metaphors for the teacher-student relationship and used factor analysis to explore whether these metaphors reflect systematically different intuitions about the qualities of college teachers. Our findings demonstrate that (1) people endorse a variety of different teaching metaphors, and (2) these metaphors bring to mind distinct, coherent clusters of teacher attributes. This work demonstrates a novel method for systematically mapping the structure of metaphorical lay theories and sets the stage for future research on metaphorical reasoning as well as innovative educational interventions centered on shifting lay theories of teaching.

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