Some work has been devoted to exploring the relationships between the use of scientific terms like force, energy, heat in daily life and the precise definition they have in their discipline. Mibiol, cited in [#!sayer!#], interviewed form 5 students in three schools of Nigeria to test their understanding of certain science concepts. The investigator maintains that the basic source for misconceptions ``was either due to the absence in their first language of a number of words ... or the absence of certain concepts''. The word used by students for respiration actually meant `breathe' and oxygen was referred to as `air'. Veiga et al., cited in [#!sayer!#], analyzed the language used by teachers and found that teachers use naturalistic language inter-mixed with scientific language, which can lead to misconceptions, for example when saying ``energy comes from the sun''. They suggest that if teachers became more aware of the descriptive language they used then it might help avoid some misconceptions.

Other studies have aimed at understanding the role of student's use of informal analogies to understand complex scientific concepts. Gick and Holyoak [#!gick-83!#] conducted a series of studies using a problem involving radiation. An analogous story problem was presented before the problem. Relatively low percentage (30%) of subjects produced the correct solution. Only 10% generated the correct response in the absence of the analog while 75% gave the correct response on being given an explicit hint that the stories were related.

Bassok and Holyoak, cited in [#!kaufman!#], investigated the interdomain transfer of procedures between algebra word problems and physics problems. In particular, they studied transfer of knowledge between a set of arithmetic-progressions problems in algebra and a set of constant-acceleration problems in physics. Subjects learned to solve problems in one of the two domains and then were tested on the other domain. The goal was to determine if they could transfer the solution method learned in one domain to another domain.

Algebra-trained subjects immediately retrieved the relevant equation and applied the solution method to the physics problems while physics-trained subjects almost never exhibited any spontaneous transfer to the algebra problems. Researchers claim that students who knew the conditions under which mathematical procedures apply, screened out content-specific details of the algebra word problems while students who were trained to solve physics problems, having learned the content-specific applicability conditions, failed to solve algebra problems.