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  • 1.
    Airey, John
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Patron, Emelie
    Linnéuniversitet.
    Wikman, Susanne
    Linnéuniversitet.
    Making the Invisible Visible: The role of undergraduate textbooks in the teaching and learning of physics and chemistry2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    As disciplines, undergraduate physics and chemistry leverage a particularly wide range of semiotic systems (modes) in order to create and communicate their scientific meanings. Examples of the different semiotic systems employed are: spoken and written language, mathematics, chemical formulae, graphs, diagrams, sketches, computer simulations, hands-on work with experimental apparatus, computer simulations, etc. Individual semiotic resources within this range of semiotic systems are coordinated in specific constellations (Airey & Linder, 2009) in order to mediate scientific knowledge. In this Swedish Research Council project, we are interested in the representation of scientific phenomena that cannot be seen. The question we pose is: How is scientific knowledge mediated when we cannot directly interact with the phenomena in question through our senses?  We adopt a social semiotic approach (Airey & Linder, 2017; van Leeuwen, 2005), to investigate the ways in which two phenomena—electromagnetic fields and chemical bonds—are presented in undergraduate textbooks. To do this we carried out a semiotic audit (Airey & Erikson, 2019) of eight textbooks (four in each discipline). We note that the individual resources used have a mixture of affordances—whilst the majority retain high disciplinary affordance, others are unpacked (Patron et al. 2021) providing higher pedagogical affordance. We discuss the ways in which the resources have been combined and orchestrated (Bezemer & Jewitt, 2010) in order to attempt to make visible that which is invisible, and identify a number of potential problems. In earlier work, Volkwyn et al. (2019) demonstrated how experimental work with physics devices can make the Earth’s magnetic field accessible to students through chains of transduction. Thus, we propose that encouraging transductions across the semiotic resource systems provided in textbooks may help students to experience the invisible.

    References

    Airey, J. (2006). Physics students' experiences of the disciplinary discourse encountered in lectures in English and Swedish (Licentiate dissertation, Department of Physics, Uppsala University).

    Airey, J. (2009). Science, language, and literacy: Case studies of learning in Swedish university physics (Doctoral dissertation, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis).

    Airey, J. (2015). Social Semiotics in Higher Education: Examples from teaching and learning in undergraduate physics. In In: SACF Singapore-Sweden Excellence Seminars, Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research in   Higher Education (STINT) , 2015 (pp. 103). 

    Airey, J., & Eriksson, U. (2019). Unpacking the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram: A social semiotic analysis of the disciplinary and pedagogical affordances of a central resource in astronomy. Designs for Learning, 11(1), 99-107.

    Goodwin, C. (2015). Professional vision. In Aufmerksamkeit: Geschichte-Theorie-Empirie (pp. 387-425). Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden.

    O’Halloran, K. (2007). Mathematical and scientific forms of knowledge: A systemic functional multimodal grammatical approach. language, Knowledge and pedagogy: functional linguistic and sociological perspective, 205-236.

    Patron, E. (2022). Exploring the role that visual representations play when teaching and learning chemical bonding: An approach built on social semiotics and phenomenography(Doctoral dissertation, Linnaeus University Press).

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  • 2. Volkwyn, Trevor
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Wikman, Susanne
    Linder, Cedric
    Towards modelling formal learning in terms of the multimodal emergence of transduction2017Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Disciplinary learning is a multimodal endeavour that calls for achieving representational competency (Linder et al 2014), which is constituted from the coordination of disciplinary semiotic resources (Airey & Linder, in press). Examples of these semiotic resources for disciplines such as physics and chemistry are mathematics, graphs, gestures, diagrams and language. The effective learning of complex subjects such as these presents many unsolved challenges. In order to begin working towards solving these challenges much still needs to be done to deepen our understanding of how such disciplinary learning takes place. Taking the idea that formal learning is made possible through experiencing specific patterns of variation (Marton 2015), we will use our analysis of student-engagement data to present a case for seeing complex learning in terms of the multimodal emergence (Davis & Sumara, 2006) of transduction (Kress, 2010).  We use these results to propose a model of disciplinary learning that characterizes the multimodal emergence of transduction in terms of the start of a journey towards achieving fluency in a critical constellation of semiotic resources (Airey & Linder 2009; in press) for a given object of learning.

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