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  • 1.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    A Social Semiotic Approach to Teaching and Learning Science2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this presentation I will discuss the application of social semiotics to the teaching and learning of university science. Science disciplines leverage a wide range of semiotic resources such as graphs, diagrams, mathematical representations, hands on work with apparatus, language, gestures etc. In my work I study how students learn to integrate these resources to do physics and what teachers can do to help them in this process. Over the years, a number of theoretical constructs have been developed within the Physics Education Research Group in Uppsala to help us to better understand the different roles semiotic resources play in learning university physics. In this presentation I will explain some of these terms and give examples of their usefulness for teasing out how learning is taking place.

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  • 2.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    Building on higher education research - How can we take a scholarly approach to teaching and learning2018Conference paper (Other academic)
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  • 3.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Linnæus University, Sweden.
    CLIL: Combining Language and Content: Tarja Nikula, Emma Dafouz, Pat Moore and Ute Smit (Eds.). CONCEPTUALISING INTEGRATION IN CLIL AND MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION (2016), Bristol: Multilingual Matters2017In: ESP Today, ISSN 2334-9050, Vol. 5, no 2, p. 297-302Article, book review (Other academic)
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  • 4.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Disciplinary Affordance vs Pedagogical Affordance: Teaching the Multimodal Discourse of University Science2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The natural sciences have been extremely successful in modeling some specific aspects of the world around us. This success is in no small part due to the creation of generally accepted, paradigmatic ways of representing the world through a range of semiotic resources. The discourse of science is of necessity multimodal (see for example Lemke, 1998) and it is therefore important for undergraduate science students to learn to master this multimodal discourse (Airey & Linder, 2009). In this paper, I approach the teaching of multimodal science discourse via the concept of affordance. Since its introduction by Gibson (1979) the concept of affordance has been debated by a number of researchers. Most famous, perhaps is the disagreement between Gibson and Norman (1988) about whether affordances are inherent properties of objects or are only present when perceived by an organism. More recently, affordance has been drawn on in the educational arena, particularly with respect to multimodality (see Fredlund, 2015 for a recent example). Here, Kress et al (2001) have claimed that different modes have different specialized affordances. In the presentation the interrelated concepts of disciplinary affordance and pedagogical affordance will be presented. Both concepts make a radical break with the views of both Gibson and Norman in that rather than focusing on the perception of an individual, they refer to the disciplinary community as a whole. Disciplinary affordance is "the agreed meaning making functions that a semiotic resource fulfills for a disciplinary community". Similarly, pedagogical affordance is "the aptness of a semiotic resource for the teaching and learning of some particular educational content" (Airey, 2015). As such, in a teaching situation the question of whether these affordances are inherent or perceived becomes moot. Rather, the issue is the process through which students come to use semiotic resources in a way that is accepted within the discipline. In this characterization then, learning can be framed in terms of coming to perceive and leverage the disciplinary affordances of semiotic resources. In this paper, I will discuss: the disciplinary affordances of individual semiotic resources, how these affordances can be made “visible” to students and how the disciplinary affordances of semiotic resources are ultimately leveraged and coordinated in order to make science meanings.

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  • 5.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning. Uppsala universitet, Fysikundervisningens didaktik.
    Disciplinary Literacy and English-Medium Instruction2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Disciplinary Literacy and English-Medium Instruction 

    In this keynote, I will discuss the concept of disciplinary literacy (Airey, 2011a; Shanahan & Shanahan, 2012) and its usefulness in highlighting issues for consideration when embarking on English-medium instruction. For the purposes of the presentation, I will be using the following definition of disciplinary literacy:The ability to appropriately participate in the communicative practices of a discipline. (Airey, 2011a) I have earlier suggested that the goal of all university teaching is the production of disciplinary literate graduates (Airey, 2011b), but what specifically does being disciplinary literate entail in an EMI setting? Here, I will propose three distinct aspects of disciplinary literacy that I suggest require consideration when embarking on EMI. The first of these aspects is the particular knowledge structure of the discipline at hand (Bernstein, 1999), which has been shown to affect disciplinary attitudes to language use (Airey, 2012; Kuteeva & Airey, 2014). The second aspect of note is the importance of semiotic resource systems other than language (such as mathematics, sketches, diagrams, graphs, gestures, hands-on work with physical tools, etc) in the creation of disciplinary knowledge (Kress, 2009; Airey & Linder 2009). The degree of reliance on these other resource systems necessarily affects the role played by language in the discipline. Finally, I suggest that disciplinary literacy is developed to function within three specific sites: the academy, society and the workplace. This can be conceptualised in terms of a disciplinary literacy triangle (Airey & Larsson, 2018; Airey, 2020). Different disciplines place different emphasis on these three sites, however, it is highly unlikely that the same emphasis needs to be given to each site across different languages (L1 and English for example). I finish the presentation by proposing a disciplinary literacy discussion matrix (Airey, 2011b; 2020) as heuristic tool for disciplinary needs analysis in EMI. 

    References

    Airey, J. (2011a). Initiating collaboration in higher education: Disciplinary literacy and the scholarship of teaching and learning 57-65.

    Airey, J. (2011b). The disciplinary literacy discussion matrix: A heuristic tool for initiating collaboration in higher education. Across the disciplines, 8(3), 1-9.

    Airey, J. (2012). I don’t teach language. The linguistic attitudes of physics lecturers in Sweden. AILA Review, 25(25), 64-79.

    Airey, J. (2020). The content lecturer and English-medium instruction (EMI): epilogue to the special issue on EMI in higher education. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 23(3), 340-346.

    Airey, J., & Larsson, J. (2018). Developing students’ disciplinary literacy? The case of university physics. In Global developments in literacy research for science education (pp. 357-376). Springer, Cham.

    Airey, J., & Linder, C. (2009). A disciplinary discourse perspective on university science learning: Achieving fluency in a critical constellation of modes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(1), 27-49.

    Bernstein, B. (1999). Vertical and horizontal discourse: An essay. In Education and society (pp. 53-73). Routledge.Kress, G. (2009). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. Routledge.

    Kuteeva, M., & Airey, J. (2014). Disciplinary differences in the use of English in higher education: Reflections on recent language policy developments. Higher education, 67(5), 533-549.

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  • 6.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden; Linneaus University, Sweden.
    Disciplinary Literacy: Theorising the Specialized Use of Language and other Modes in University Teaching and Learning2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this presentation I use the work of Basil Bernstein (Bernstein, 1990, 1999, 2000) to discuss the role of disciplinary differences in university teaching and learning.  Drawing from my own work on the theme of disciplinary literacy (Airey, 2012, 2013; Airey & Linder, 2008, 2011) I argue that all university lecturers are teachers of disciplinary literacy—even in monolingual settings. 

    I define disciplinary literacy as appropriate participation in the communicative practices of the discipline (Airey, 2011a, 2011b)and suggest that disciplinary literacy is developed for three specific sites (academy, workplace and society). I will illustrate the multilingual and multimodal nature of disciplinary literacy with empirical evidence from a comparative study of the disciplinary literacy goals of Swedish and South African physics lecturers (Linder, Airey, Mayaba, & Webb, 2014). 

    Finally, I will conclude by demonstrating how two of Bernstein’s dichotomies: disciplinary knowledge structures (hierarchical vs horizontal) and disciplinary classification (singular vs region) can be used together with the disciplinary literacy triangle to better understand the literacy goals of particular disciplines.

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  • 7.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    EMI, CLIL, EAP: What’s the difference?2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this presentation I will examine the differences between the terms EMI (English Medium Instruction, CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning and EAP (English for Academic Purposes). I will also discuss what it means to become disciplinary literate in a first, second and third language.

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  • 8.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Learning and Sharing Disciplinary Knowledge: The Role of Representations2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In recent years there has been a large amount of interest in the roles that different representations (graphs, algebra, diagrams, sketches, physical models, gesture, etc.) play in student learning. In the literature two distinct but interrelated ways of thinking about such representations can be identified. The first tradition draws on the principles of constructivism emphasizing that students need to build knowledge for themselves. Here students are encouraged to create their own representations by working with materials of various kinds and it is in this hands-on representational process that students come to develop their understanding.

    The second tradition holds that there are a number of paradigmatic ways of representing disciplinary knowledge that have been created and refined over time. These paradigmatic disciplinary representations need to be mastered in order for students to be able to both understand and effectively communicate knowledge within a given discipline.

    In this session I would like to open up a discussion about how these two ways of viewing representations might be brought together. To do this I will first present some of the theoretical and empirical work we have been doing in Sweden over the last fifteen years. In particular there are three concepts that I would like to introduce for our discussion: critical constellations of representations, the disciplinary affordance of representations and the pedagogical affordance of representations.

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  • 9.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Research on physics teaching and learning, physics teacher education, and physics culture at Uppsala University2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This project compares the affordances and constraints for physics teachers’ professional identity building across four countries. The results of the study will be related to the potential consequences of this identity building for pupils’ science performance in school. The training of future physics teachers typically occurs across three environments, the physics department, the education department and school (during teaching practice). As they move through these three environments, trainees are in the process of building their professional identity. However, what is signalled as valuable for a future physics teacher differs considerably in different parts of the education. In educational research, professional identity has been used in a variety of ways (See for example overviews of the concept in Beauchamp & Thomas, 2009; and Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004). In this project we draw on the work of Sfard and Pruzak (2005) who have defined identity as an analytical category for use in educational research. The project leverages this concept of identity as an analytical tool to understand how the value-systems present in teacher training environments and society as a whole potentially affect the future practice of trainee physics teachers. For identities to be recognized as professional they must fit into accepted discourses. Thus the project endeavours to identify discourse models that tacitly steer the professional identity formation of future physics teachers. Interviews will be carried out with trainee physics teachers and the various training staff that they meet during their education (physics lecturers, education lecturers, school mentors). It has been suggested that the perceived status of the teaching profession in society has a major bearing on the type of professional identity teachers can enact. Thus, in this project research interviews will be carried out in parallel across four countries with varying teacher status and PISA science scores: Sweden, Finland, Singapore and England. These interviews will be analysed following the design developed in a pilot study that has already carried out by the project group in Sweden. The research questions for the project are as follows: In four countries where the societal status of the teaching profession differs widely: What discourse models are enacted in the educational environments trainee physics teachers meet? What are the potential affordances and constraints of these discourse models for the constitution of physics teacher professional identities? In what ways do perceptions of the status assigned by society to the teaching profession potentially affect this professional identity building? What are the potential consequences of the answers to the above questions for the view of science communicated to pupils in school? In an extensive Swedish pilot study, four potentially competing discourse models were identified: these are: the critically reflective teacher, the practically well-equipped teacher, the syllabus implementer and the physics expert. Of these, the physics expert discourse model was found to dominate in both the physics department and amongst mentors in schools. In the physics expert discourse model the values of the discipline of physics dominate. Thus, the overarching goal of physics teaching is to create future physicists. In this model, the latest research in physics is seen as interesting and motivating, whereas secondary school subject matter is viewed as inherently unsophisticated and boring—something that needs to be made interesting. The model co-exists with the three other discourse models, which were more likely to be enacted in the education department. These other models value quite different goals such as the development of practical skills, reflective practice, critical thinking and citizenship. We claim that knowledge of the different discourse models at work in four countries with quite different outcomes on PISA science will useful in a number of ways. For teacher trainers, a better understanding of these models would allow informed decisions to be taken about the coordination of teacher education. For prospective teachers, knowledge of the discourse models at work during their education empowers them to question the kind of teacher they want to become.

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  • 10.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Semiotic Resources and Disciplinary Literacy2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this research project we focused on the different semiotic resources used in physics (e.g. graphs, diagrams, language, mathematics, apparatus, etc.). We were interested in the ways in which undergraduate physics students learn to combine the different resources used in physics in order to become “disciplinary literate” and what university lecturers do to help their students in this process. Comparative data on the disciplinary literacy goals of physics lecturers for their students was collected at five universities in South Africa and four universities in Sweden.

    One of the main contributions of the project concerned what we termed the disciplinary affordance of a semiotic resource, that is, the specific meaning-making functions a particular resource plays for the discipline. We contrasted these meaning-making functions with the way that students initially viewed the same resource.

    We proposed two ways that lecturers can direct their students’ attention towards the disciplinary affordances of a given resource. The first involves unpacking the disciplinary affordance in order to create a new resource with higher pedagogical affordance. Our second proposal involved the use of systematic variation in order to help students notice the disciplinary relevant aspects of a given resource. A total of 19 articles/book chapters were published as a direct result of this funding.

  • 11.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Teaching and Learning with Disciplinary Resources2020Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In the creation and dissemination of knowledge, science disciplines use a wide range of disciplinary-specific resources such as graphs, diagrams, mathematical representations, hands on work with apparatus, technical language, etc. In my work I study how students experience such specialized resources and come to view them in the same way as experts in the field. In particular, I am interested in what we as university teachers can do to help students in this process. 

    In this presentation will use some examples from astronomy to illustrate a number of educational issues that can arise when teaching undergraduates using disciplinary-specific resources and discuss potential ways in which these issues can be addressed.

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  • 12.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    The Concept of Affordance in the Teaching and Learning of Undergraduate Science2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Since its introduction by Gibson (1979) the concept of affordance has been debated by a number of researchers. Most famous, perhaps is the disagreement between Gibson and Norman(1988) about whether affordances are inherent properties of objects or are only present when perceived by an organism. More recently, affordance has been drawn on in the educational arena, particularly with respect to multimodality (see Fredlund, 2015 for a recent example). 

    In the presentation the interrelated concepts of disciplinary affordance and pedagogical affordance will be presented. Both concepts make a radical break with the views of both Gibson and Norman in that rather than focusing on the perception of an individual, they refer to the disciplinary community as a whole. Disciplinary affordance is "the agreed meaning making functions that a semiotic resource fulfills for a disciplinary community". Similarly, pedagogical affordance is "the aptness of a semiotic resource for the teaching and learning of some particular educational content" (Airey, 2015). As such, in a teaching situation the question of whether these affordances are inherent or perceived becomes moot. Rather, the issue is the process through which students come to use semiotic resources in a way that is accepted within the discipline. In this characterization then, learning can be framed in terms of coming to perceive and leverage the disciplinary affordances of semiotic resources. 

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  • 13.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    The content lecturer and English-medium instruction (EMI): epilogue to the special issue on EMI in higher education2020In: International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, ISSN 1367-0050, E-ISSN 1747-7522, Vol. 23, no 3, p. 340-346Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 14.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning. Uppsala universitet, Fysikundervisningens didaktik.
    Thinking About English-Medium Instruction: Do We Need Everything Everywhere All at Once?2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Thinking About English-Medium Instruction: Do We Need Everything Everywhere All at Once? 

    Around the world, more and more university courses are being taught in English. Although there are sound economic, social and political reasons for this trend, many questions remain about the pedagogical effects of EMI at university level: How can teachers be prepared for EMI teaching? Will students cope? Are some forms of teaching less suited to EMI? Do different disciplines have different needs? Etc. etc.  In this workshop, I present some of the research I have carried out in Sweden that addresses these questions and make a number of recommendations.  I finish the workshop by proposing a disciplinary literacy discussion matrix (Airey, 2011) as a tool for carrying out disciplinary needs analysis for EMI.  

    References

    Airey, J. (2011). The disciplinary literacy discussion matrix: A heuristic tool for initiating collaboration in higher education. Across the disciplines, 8(3), 1-9.

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  • 15.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Using variation and unpacking to help students decode disciplinary-specific semiotic resources2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this presentation I will describe a social semiotic approach (Halliday 1978; van Leeuwen 2005) to the multimodal teaching and learning of a discipline that takes variation theory (Marton & Booth 1997; Runesson 2005) as its theoretical framing. Following Airey and Linder (2017:95) I define social semiotics as “the study of the development and reproduction of specialized systems of meaning making in particular sections of society”

    Learning at university level involves coming to understand the ways in which disciplinary-specific semiotic resources can be coordinated to make appropriate disciplinary meanings (Airey & Linder 2009). Nowhere is this more true than in undergraduate physics where a particularly wide range of semiotic resources such as graphs, diagrams, mathematics and language are essential for meaning making.  In order to learn to make these disciplinary meanings, students need to discover the disciplinary affordances(Fredlund et al. 2012, 2014; Airey & Linder 2017) of the semiotic resources used in their discipline. 

    Fredlund et al. (2015) propose a three-stage process that lecturers can use to help their students:  

    1. Identify the disciplinary relevant aspects needed for a particular task. 

    2. Select semiotic resources that showcase these aspects. 

    3. Create structured variation within these semiotic resources to help students notice the disciplinary relevant aspects and their relationships to each other.

    However, many disciplinary specific semiotic resources have been rationalized to create a kind of disciplinary shorthand(Airey 2009). In such cases the disciplinary relevant aspects needed may no longer be present in resources used, but are rather implied. In such cases the resources will need to be unpacked for students (Fredlund et al. 2014).  Such unpacking increases the pedagogical affordance of semiotic resources but simultaneously decreases their disciplinary affordance. 

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  • 16.
    Airey, John
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Grundström Lindqvist, Josefine
    Kung, Rebecca
    What does it mean to understand a physics equation?: A study of undergraduate answers in three countries2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper we are interested in how undergraduate students in the US, Australia and Sweden experience the physics equations they meet in their education. We asked over 350 students the same simple question: How do you know when you understand a physics equation? Students wrote free-text answers to this question and these were transcribed and coded. The analysis resulted in eight themes (significance, origin, describe, predict, parts, relationships, calculate and explain). Each of these themes represents a different disciplinary aspect of student understanding of physics equations. We argue that together the different aspects we find represent a more holistic view of physics equations that we would like all our students to experience. Based on this work we wondered how best to highlight this more holistic view of equations. This prompted us to write a set of questions that reflect the original data with respect to the eight themes. We suggest that when students are working with problem solving they may ask themselves these questions in order to check their holistic understanding of what the physics equations they are using represent. In continuing work we are asking the same question to a cohort of physics lecturers. We are also trialling the themes and related questions that we generated in teaching situations. Here we are interested in whether students perceive the questions as helpful in their learning.

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  • 17.
    Airey, John
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Grundström Lindqvist, Josefine
    Lippman Kung, Rebecca
    What Does It Mean to Understand a Physics Equation? A Study of Undergraduate Answers in Three Countries2019In: Bridging Research and Practice in Science Education: Selected Papers from the ESERA 2017 Conference / [ed] Eilish McLoughlin, Odilla E. Finlayson, Sibel Erduran, Peter E. Childs, Cham: Springer Nature, 2019, p. 225-239Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    As a discipline, physics is concerned with describing the world by constructing models, the end product of this modelling process often being an equation. As such, physics equations represent much more than a finalized, ready-to-use calculation package – to physicists they are the culmination of a whole range of actions, assump- tions, approximations and historical discoveries. Moreover, physics equations are not simply stand-alone entities, rather they are intimately bound up with other equa- tions. Together, this web of equations represents an integrated, coherent whole that signals the way the community of physicists view the world.

    Clearly, such a nuanced, expert-like understanding of physics equations is not spontaneously available to undergraduate physics students when they meet an equa- tion for the first time. In this respect, research suggests that we should not expect students to display conceptually coherent understanding across settings. Rather it has been suggested that understanding is built up from context-dependent knowl- edge in pieces (diSessa 1993, 2018). In this characterization, different aspects, or ways of viewing the same phenomenon, are leveraged in different settings. Students gradually develop their understanding in two ways: by forging links between these separate ‘pieces of knowledge’ and by coming to appreciate the usefulness of a given ‘piece of knowledge’ for a given task. Educationally then, we are interested in identifying these pieces of knowledge – in our case the range of ways that students understand equations. What are students’ default positions with respect to equa- tions? Which aspects of equations do students tend to focus on and which aspects tend to go unnoticed? Once we have documented the range of ways of understand- ing, the next task concerns how to help students discern other aspects of equations than those they may initially notice. Do the tasks that students are presented with in their undergraduate education encourage them to move towards a more nuanced, coherent, holistic understanding of physics equations?

  • 18.
    Airey, John
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    Jons, Lotta
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    Braskén, Mats
    What makes a good Physics Teacher? The shared vision of Finnish teacher educators2019Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper we present findings from an interview study with eleven educators from a Finnish physics teacher training programme. The educators represent the four environments where the education takes place: the Department of Physics, the Department of Mathematics and Science Education, the Department of General Pedagogy, and the Training School. The study is part of a larger Swedish Research Council project comparing the different disciplinary values that are communicated to future physics teachers across four countries (Sweden, England, Singapore and Finland).

    Interviews were coded in TRANSANA software, and analysed using Gee’s (2014, p. 95) theory of figured worlds which he describes as “taken-for-granted theories that are guided, shaped, and normed though social and cultural interactions”. In our study we apply Gee’s concept to descriptions of a ‘good’ physics teacher. Our analysis shows that the educators across the four training environments largely communicate the same figured world. Although working in different settings, the eleven educators appear to be working in concert, each contributing to a shared vision of what is needed to develop the professional physics teacher identities of their trainees.

    The figured world we identify characterizes a ‘good ‘physics teacher in terms of a range of competencies, such as: student centredness, inclusive teaching, pedagogical content knowledge, physics for society, assessment skills, relationships and leadership and teacher professionalism.

    Taken together, the four departments appear to cover all the expressed competencies of a ‘good’ physics teacher and there is mutual trust across the four environments. The training school was seen as the place where all of the desired competencies are brought together, applied and evaluated.

    These findings are in stark contrast to parallel findings for Sweden where four competing models of the goals of the educational programme were identified.

  • 19.
    Airey, John
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden; Linnaeus University, Sweden.
    Larsson, Johanna
    Developing Students’ Disciplinary Literacy? The Case of University Physics2018In: Global Developments in Literacy Research for Science Education / [ed] Kok-Sing Tang, Kristina Danielsson, Springer, 2018, p. 357-376Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this chapter we use the concept of disciplinary literacy (Airey, 2011a, 2013) to analyze the goals of university physics lecturers. Disciplinary literacy refers to a particular mix of disciplinary-specific communicative practices developed for three specific sites: the academy, the workplace and society. It has been suggested that the development of disciplinary literacy may be seen as one of the primary goals of university studies (Airey, 2011a).

    The main data set used in this chapter comes from a comparative study of physics lecturers in Sweden and South Africa (Airey, 2012, 2013; Linder, Airey, Mayaba, & Webb, 2014). Semi-structured interviews were carried out using a disciplinary literacy discussion matrix (Airey, 2011b), which enabled us to probe the lecturers’ disciplinary literacy goals in the various semiotic resource systems used in undergraduate physics (i.e. graphs, diagrams, mathematics, language).

    The findings suggest that whilst physics lecturers have strikingly similar disciplinary literacy goals for their students, regardless of setting, they have very different ideas about whether they themselves should teach students to handle these disciplinary-specific semiotic resources. It is suggested that the similarity in physics lecturers’ disciplinary literacy goals across highly disparate settings may be related to the hierarchical, singular nature of the discipline of physics (Bernstein, 1999, 2000).

    In the final section of the chapter some preliminary evidence about the disciplinary literacy goals of those involved in physics teacher training is presented. Using Bernstein’s constructs, a potential conflict between the hierarchical singular of physics and the horizontal region of teacher training is noticeable.

    Going forward it would be interesting to apply the concept of disciplinary literacy to the analysis of other disciplines—particularly those with different combinations of Bernstein’s classifications of hierarchical/horizontal and singular/region.

  • 20.
    Airey, John
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Larsson, Johanna
    Linder, Anne
    Investigating Undergraduate Physics Lecturers’ Disciplinary Literacy Goals For Their Students2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this presentation we use the concept of disciplinary literacy (Airey, 2011a; 2013) to analyse the expressed learning goals of university physics lecturers for their students. We define disciplinary literacy in terms of learning to control a particular set of multimodal communicative practices. We believe it is important to document the expressed intentions of lecturers in this way, since it has previously been suggested that the development of such disciplinary literacy may be seen as one of the primary goals of university studies (Airey, 2011a).

    The main data set used in this presentation comes from a comparative study of 30 physics lecturers from Sweden and South Africa. (Airey, 2012, 2013; Linder et al, 2014). Semi-structured interviews were carried out using a disciplinary literacy discussion matrix (Airey, 2011b), which enabled us to probe the lecturers’ disciplinary literacy goals in the various semiotic resource systems used in undergraduate physics (e.g. graphs, diagrams, mathematics, spoken and written languages, etc.).

    The findings suggest that physics lecturers in both countries have strikingly similar disciplinary literacy goals for their students and hold similar beliefs about disciplinary semiotic resources. The lecturers also agree that teaching disciplinary literacy ought not to be their job. Here though, there were differences in whether the lecturers teach students to handle disciplinary-specific semiotic resources. These differences appear to be based on individual decisions, rather than being specific to a particular country or institution.

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  • 21. Airey, John
    et al.
    Lauridsen, Karen M.
    Räsänen, Anne
    Salö, Linus
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Centre for Research on Bilingualism.
    Schwach, Vera
    The expansion of English-medium instruction in the Nordic countries: Can top-down university language policies encourage bottom-up disciplinary literacy goals?2017In: Higher Education, ISSN 0018-1560, E-ISSN 1573-174X, Vol. 73, no 4, p. 561-576Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Recently, in the wake of the Bologna Declaration and similar international initiatives, there has been a rapid increase in the number of university courses and programmes taught through the medium of English. Surveys have consistently shown the Nordic countries to be at the forefront of this trend towards English-medium instruction (EMI). In this paper, we discuss the introduction of EMI in four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden). We present the educational setting and the EMI debate in each of these countries and summarize relevant research findings. We then make some tentative suggestions for the introduction of EMI in higher education in other countries. In particular, we are interested in university language policies and their relevance for the day-to-day work of faculty. We problematize one-size-fits-all university language policies, suggesting that in order for policies to be seen as relevant they need to be flexible enough to take into account disciplinary differences. In this respect, we make some specific suggestions about the content of university language policies and EMI course syllabuses. Here we recommend that university language policies should encourage the discussion of disciplinary literacy goals and require course syllabuses to detail disciplinaryspecific language-learning outcomes.

  • 22.
    Airey, John
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Linder, Cedric
    Social Semiotics in University Physics Education2017In: Multiple Representations in Physics Education / [ed] David F. Treagust, Reinders Duit, Hans E. Fischer, Springer, 2017, p. 95-122Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this chapter we discuss the application of social semiotics to the teaching and learning of university physics. Social semiotics is a broad construct where all communication in a particular social group is realized through the use of semiotic resources. In the discipline of physics, examples of such semiotic resources are graphs, diagrams, mathematics, spoken and written language, and laboratory apparatus. In physics education research it is usual to refer to most of these semiotic resources as representations. In social semiotics, then, disciplinary learning can be viewed as coming to interpret and use the meaning potential of disciplinary-specific semiotic resources (representations) that has been assigned by the discipline. We use this complementary depiction of representations to build theory with respect to the construction and sharing of disciplinary knowledge in the teaching and learning of university physics. To facilitate both scholarly discussion and future research in the area, a number of theoretical constructs have been developed. These constructs take their point of departure in empirical studies of teaching and learning in undergraduate physics. In the chapter we present each of these constructs in turn and examine their usefulness for problematizing teaching and learning with multiple representations in university physics.

  • 23.
    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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  • 24.
    Airey, John
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Simpson, Zachary
    Multimodal Science and Engineering Teaching: Perspectives from 8ICOM2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The previous international conference on multimodality – 8ICOM – featured two sessions devoted to multimodal, social semiotic approaches to science teaching and learning (c.f. Halliday1978; van Leeuwen 2005, Airey & Linder 2017). What the papers in these sessions shared was the argument that such perspectives on science, and science teaching, can, at least in part, respond to calls to ‘democratize’ science education by recognising diverse sets of semiotic resources and, in so doing, seeking to address impediments to equal participation (Burke et al., 2017). 

    The 8ICOM science sessions were particularly noteworthy given the backdrop against which 8ICOM had been organised. In the months leading up to the conference, South Africa (and Cape Town, in particular) had experienced campus unrest aimed at ‘decolonizing’ higher education in that country. As part of this movement, the phrase #ScienceMustFall briefly trended on social media. This emanated from the claim that ‘science’ is a western, colonial construct that needs to be dismantled and replaced with the teaching of indigenous, African knowledge. Although the #ScienceMustFall slogan has since departed from the wider public consciousness, the questions it raises nonetheless remain: why, and how, should science be taught?  Is science more than just a western colonial construction and, if so, why? And, what can the concept of multimodality offer by way of answering these questions? 

    In this paper, we offer an overview of the multimodal science papers presented in the two sessions at 8ICOM in the light of these questions. This is done with a view to assessing where the multimodality community finds itself regarding science education, and how it might address questions of the legitimacy of western science in the future. It is thus an attempt, as the conference theme suggests, to ‘move the theory forward’.      

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  • 25.
    Airey, John
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Volkwyn, Trevor
    Developing Student Representational Competence2021Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In order to make disciplinary meanings, science students need to coordinate a large number of semiotic systems such as graphs, diagrams, spoken and written language, gesture, mathematics, etc. In this respect, it has been suggested that there is a critical constellation of semiotic resources that is necessary for holistic construction of each scientific concept (Airey, 2009). Other actors have discussed this problem in terms of building students' representational competence (Kozma & Russell 2005; Kohl & Finkelstein 2005; De Cock 2012; Linder et al. 2014). Combining this work, Volkwyn et al (2020:91) define representational competence as: “The ability to appropriately interpret and produce a set of disciplinary-accepted representations of real-world phenomena and link these to formalized scientific concepts”. In this paper we first put forward a theoretical proposal for how such student representational competence may be developed, before empirically demonstrating the usefulness of this proposal for a particular representational system (graphs) in a particular area of physics (1-D kinematics). By coordinating kinematics concepts, the three graphs, and real-world movement we show how the students begin to practice their representational competence. We also show the complexity of this apparently simple system in representational terms.

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  • 26. de Winter, James
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Pre-service physics teachers’ developing views on the role of mathematics in the teaching and learning of physics2022In: Physics Education, ISSN 0031-9120, E-ISSN 1361-6552, Vol. 57, no 6, article id 065007Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This qualitative, questionnaire and interview-based study explores how pre-service physics teachers think about the role that mathematics plays in the teaching and learning of physics at university and school level and whether these views change during their pre-service teacher education. Many of the pre-service teachers were aware of the complex relationship between these two subjects at university level, noting that success in mathematics can often mask a lack of conceptual understanding in physics and that there can be a disconnect between the physics and mathematical aspects of undergraduate courses. At school level, many stressed the importance of a focus on conceptual understanding and that technical competence in mathematics lessons does not always transfer to physics lessons. Almost all the pre-service physics teachers changed their views during the year, often in response to their classroom experiences. As they became more attuned to the difficulties students faced with respect to the mathematical challenges involved in learning physics, many took a more pragmatic position that balanced the role of mathematics in physics with acceptance that they must respond to student needs. We suggest that these changing views can be framed in terms of two re-orientations. A disciplinary re-orientation where the role that mathematics plays in order to be successful in physics is reassessed, and a pedagogical re-orientation that attends to pragmatic, teaching considerations. We recommend that direct attention to the role of mathematics in school physics should be an integral part of pre-service physics teacher education in order to encourage these re-orientations.

  • 27. de Winter, James
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    The views of pre-service physics teachers on the role of mathematics in the teaching and learning of physics2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Mathematics is commonly seen as playing a fundamental role in the understanding of undergraduate physics. However, this role poses challenges for teaching physics at lower levels. In England, increased formal assessment of mathematical skills in national physics examinations has made many teachers (re)consider this issue and their classroom practice. This qualitative study explores how English physics teachers view the physics/mathematics relationship. Our data consists of questionnaires and follow up interviews with an entire cohort of pre-service teachers training at an English university (n=13). Analysis included a line of enquiry on the tension between the value of mathematics in undergraduate physics and its value for teaching physics at school level. There was considerable variation across respondents, some seeing mathematics as integral to understanding school physics, whilst others prioritised conceptual understanding over mathematical formalism. Many noted how their views had changed during training, raising questions for those involved in physics teacher preparation.

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  • 28. de Winter, James
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    What is a ‘good’ physics teacher?: Views from the UK education community2017Conference paper (Refereed)
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  • 29.
    Jons, Lotta
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    An Agreed Figured World – Conceptualizing Good Physics Teachers in a Finnish University2024In: Journal of Science Teacher Education, ISSN 1046-560X, E-ISSN 1573-1847, Vol. 35, no 1, p. 5-23Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study reports findings from an interview study with eleven teacher educators from a physics teacher training program in Finland. They represented the four training environments that students encounter during their education, i.e. the Department of Physics, the Department of Mathematics and Science Education, the Department of General Pedagogy, and the Training School. Drawing on Gee’s theory of figured worlds, our analysis shows that the educators across the four training environments largely maintain the same vision of what the attributes of a “good” physics teacher are. Although working in different settings, the eleven educators appear to be working in concert, each contributing to the development of an agreed professional physics teacher identity for their trainees. The ideal physics teacher was found to be envisioned in terms of a subject expert and a research-based educationalist, whilst at the same time being psychologically fully matured and willing to develop as both a person and a teacher. We identify a number of factors in the Finnish teacher training program that are suggested to contribute to the coherence found. Some of the factors we identify are specific to the Finnish situation, such as teacher status in society, whilst others could potentially be implemented elsewhere, such as dedicated training schools and direct teacher influence in the design of the curriculum.

  • 30.
    Jons, Lotta
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Bilden av den goda fysikläraren: samstämmighet och tillit hos finska lärarutbildare2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [sv]

    I sessionen presenteras en studie där elva lärarutbildare vid en finsk fysiklärarutbildning intervjuats. Lärarutbildarna representerar de fyra kontexter som fysiklärarstudenten möter under sin utbildning: Fysikinstitutionen, Institutionen för naturvetenskapernas och matematikämnets didaktik, Pedagogiska institutionen och Övningsskolan. Studien är en del av ett VR-projekt där de olika föreställningar av “den gode fysikläraren” som kommuniceras till fysiklärarstudenter i fyra olika länder - Sverige, England, Singapore och Finland - kommer att jämföras.

    Resultaten visar att de fyra utbildningskontexterna i stort sett förmedlar samma idealbild av ”en god fysiklärare” till sina lärarstudenter. Inom ramen för Furuhagen, Holmén & Sänttis (2019) konceptualisering ”Visions of the ideal teacher” visar studien att lärarutbildarna leds av företällningen om “den goda fysikläraren" som “a research-based educationalist” men också som “a psychologically fully matured professional" och “a subject expert.Resultaten visar att lärarutbildarna vid de fyra olika utbildningskontexterna i samstämmighet strävar mot samma idealbild av den goda fysikläraren där var och en bidrar med sin specifika del av studentens kompetens, och med ömsesidig tillit till att de andra utbildningskontexterna bidrar med sin specifika del.

    Resultatet står i motsättning till fynden i projektets studie av en svensk fysiklärarutbildning, där man istället fann fyra konkurrerande idealbilder av den gode fysikläraren (Larsson, Airey, Danielsson & Lundqvist, 2018).

  • 31.
    Jons, Lotta
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Braskén, Mats
    Creating Physics Teachers: The Figured World of Finnish Physics Teacher Education2019In: NOFA7 Abstracts, 2019, p. 107-107Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this session we present preliminary findings from an interview study with eleven educators from a Finnish physics teacher training programme. The educators represent the four environments where the education takes place: the Department of Physics, the Department of Mathematics and Science Education, the Department of General Pedagogy, and the Training School. The study is part of a larger Swedish Research Council project comparing the different disciplinary values that are communicated to future physics teachers across four countries (Sweden, England, Singapore and Finland) .

    Interviews were coded in TRANSANA software, and analysed using Gee’s (2014, p. 95) theory of figured worlds which he describes as “taken-for-granted” theories that are shaped and normed through social and cultural interactions. In our study we apply Gee’s concept to descriptions of a ‘good’ physics teacher. Preliminary analysis shows that the educators across the four training environments largely communicate the same figured world. Although working in different settings, the eleven educators appear to be working in concert, each contributing to a shared vision of what is needed to develop the professional physics teacher identities of their trainees.

    The figured world we identify characterizes a ‘good ‘physics teacher in terms of a range of competencies, such as: student centredness, inclusive teaching, knowledge of PCK, physics for society, assessment skills, relationships and leadership and teacher professionalism.

    Taken together, the four departments appear to cover all the desired competencies of a ‘good’ physics teacher and there is mutual trust across the four environments. The training school was seen as the place where all of the desired competencies are brought together, applied and evaluated.

    These findings are in stark contrast to findings for Sweden where four competing models of the goals of the educational programme were identified (Larsson, Airey, Danielsson & Lundqvist, 2018).

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  • 32.
    Kapodistrias, Anastasios
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Rearranging equations for Physics reasoning; Implications on Physics Teaching & Learning.2024Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Researchers generally agree that physics experts use mathematics in a way that blends mathematical knowledge with physics intuition. However, the use of mathematics in physics education has traditionally tended to focus more on the computational aspect (manipulating mathematical operations to get numerical solutions) to the detriment of building conceptual understanding and physics intuition. Several solutions to this problem have been suggested; some authors have suggested building conceptual understanding before mathematics is introduced, while others have argued for the inseparability of the two, claiming instead that mathematics and conceptual physics need to be taught simultaneously. Although there is a body of work looking into how students employ mathematical reasoning when working with equations, the specifics of how physics experts use mathematics blended with physics intuition remain relatively underexplored. In this presentation, we describe some components of this blending, by analyzing how physicists perform the rearrangement of a specific equation in cosmology. Our data consist of five consecutive forms of rearrangement of the equation, as observed in three separate higher education cosmology courses. This rearrangement was analyzed from a conceptual reasoning perspective using Sherin’s framework of symbolic forms. Our analysis demonstrates how the number of potential symbolic forms associated with each subsequent rearrangement of the equation decreases as we move from line to line. Drawing on this result, we suggest an underlying mechanism for how physicists reason with equations. This mechanism seems to consist of three components: narrowing down meaning potential, moving aspects between the background and the foreground and purposefully transforming the equation according to the discipline’s questions of interest. Finally, we discuss how being aware of the components of this underlying mechanism can potentially affect physics teachers’ practice when using mathematics in the physics classroom and demonstrate a proposed teaching sequence, based on our findings.

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  • 33.
    Kapodistrias, Anastasios
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Rearranging equations to develop physics reasoning2024In: European journal of physics, ISSN 0143-0807, E-ISSN 1361-6404, Vol. 45, no 3, article id 035701Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Researchers generally agree that physics experts use mathematics in a way that blends mathematical knowledge with physics intuition. However, the use of mathematics in physics education has traditionally tended to focus more on the computational aspect (manipulating mathematical operations to get numerical solutions) to the detriment of building conceptual understanding and physics intuition. Several solutions to this problem have been suggested; some authors have suggested building conceptual understanding before mathematics is introduced, while others have argued for the inseparability of the two, claiming instead that mathematics and conceptual physics need to be taught simultaneously. Although there is a body of work looking into how students employ mathematical reasoning when working with equations, the specifics of how physics experts use mathematics blended with physics intuition remain relatively underexplored. In this paper, we describe some components of this blending, by analyzing how physicists perform the rearrangement of a specific equation in cosmology. Our data consist of five consecutive forms of rearrangement of the equation, as observed in three separate higher education cosmology courses. This rearrangement was analyzed from a conceptual reasoning perspective using Sherin's framework of symbolic forms. Our analysis clearly demonstrates how the number of potential symbolic forms associated with each subsequent rearrangement of the equation decreases as we move from line to line. Drawing on this result, we suggest an underlying mechanism for how physicists reason with equations. This mechanism seems to consist of three components: narrowing down meaning potential, moving aspects between the background and the foreground and purposefully transforming the equation according to the discipline's questions of interest. In the discussion section we highlight the potential that our work has for generalizability and how being aware of the components of this underlying mechanism can potentially affect physics teachers' practice when using mathematics in the physics classroom.

  • 34.
    Kapodistrias, Anastasios
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Representations in Higher Education Astronomy: A Semiotic Audit2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The field of astronomy is in many ways unique. In most other sciences, experimental investigation has been a major source of knowledge. Astronomy, however, is observational rather than experimental. Astronomers cannot carry out controlled experiments with their objects of interest—they are too big and too far away. We are stuck here on our small, insignificant planet and forced to simply observe. This observational nature of the discipline affects the ways in which astronomical knowledge is created, and this, in turn, affects the ways in which astronomy is taught and learned. 

    This project aims to examine how astronomy knowledge is created and mediated through the use of representations (semiotic resources) and the role these representations then play in student learning. Following a social semiotic approach (Airey & Linder, 2017), we carry out a semiotic audit (Airey & Erikson, 2019) in order to determine the disciplinary and pedagogical affordances (Airey, 2015) of the representations used in the observation and visualization of large-scale structures in the Universe The ultimate goal is a better understanding of how these representations can be used and potentially adapted for educational purposes.  Our research questions are as follows:

     

    RQ1       What is the ecosystem of representations presented to students of astronomy?

     

    RQ2       What are the disciplinary and pedagogical affordances of these representations?

     

    RQ3       In what ways do the individual representations work together to mediate astronomy knowledge?

    In order to answer RQ1, we carried out an audit of the range of representations in three courses at Stockholm University (Cosmology, Introduction to Astrophysics and Observational Astronomy). We observed lectures, analysed lecture notes and textbooks and interviewed university lecturers. From the data collected, our analysis followed two steps: first, we categorised the representations we found using the framework developed by Salimpour et al. (2021) for the topic of cosmology. Thereafter, for RQ 2 we chose to focus our analysis on three specific representations that are highly relevant for the discipline and therefore have high disciplinary affordance—namely the Cosmic Microwave Background Temperature Fluctuations Map, the Galaxy Density & Redshift Distribution and the Properties of the Universe Graph. We analysed these three central representations with a focus on identifying their disciplinary affordance, comparing this with those aspects of disciplinary knowledge that are present (noticeable) in each representation and those that are appresent: i.e., aspects that are obvious to disciplinary experts, but strictly speaking not directly observable for a novice (Marton & Booth, 2013).

    Our audit shows a wide variety of different representational forms are presented to students, from graphs and mathematics to computer coding and 3D animations. However, despite this range, there is no indication that the coordination of these representations in the educational setting is performed in such a way that focuses on making the appresent aspects of disciplinary knowledge more accessible for students. The pedagogical affordance of the individual representations used was generally low and it was usual for the representational products of observations to be used in an unmodified form. The results point out to further conclusions regarding the underdevelopment of teaching methods and explanatory mechanisms when it comes to teaching subjects of modern science using the latest research findings.

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  • 35.
    Kapodistrias, Anastasios
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University.
    Representing the Cosmos: Affordances of disciplinary specific semiotic resources in Higher Education Astronomy2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this presentation, we discuss the first findings of our documentation and cataloguing of the range of semiotic resources used in the discipline of Astronomy to create and communicate knowledge. Astronomy is unique among the sciences due to its strictly observational nature. However, the products of this observation are often not what they first seem. Nowadays, astronomers seldom look through telescopes, rather their data is collected outside the visual spectrum before being processed through a chain of transductions to create something we can see and attempt to interpret (Volkwyn et al., 2019). In this project we examine how astronomy knowledge is created and mediated through the use of semiotic resources and the role that these resources then play in undergraduate teaching and learning. Following a social semiotic approach (van Leeuwen, 2005), we carry out a semiotic audit (Airey & Erikson, 2019) of the materials presented during an undergraduate astronomy course, with the goal of determining their disciplinary & pedagogical affordances (Airey, 2015).Our project as a whole has the following research questions:

    i) What is the ecosystem of semiotic resources presented to undergraduate students of astronomy?

    ii) What are the disciplinary and pedagogical affordances of these resources?

    iii) In what ways do the resources work together to mediate astronomy knowledge?

    The data collected for the project includes lecture observations and analysis of lecture notes and textbooks, juxtaposed with semi-structured interviews with university lecturers and students. In this presentation we describe the results of our initial semiotic audit. Thereafter, we discuss the disciplinary affordances of one particular resource that appeared repeatedly in our dataset in various forms: a map of the cosmic microwave background. We demonstrate how certain aspects of what experts perceive in this map are not discernible in the resource itself. From here we suggest educational modifications to the map that can increase its pedagogical affordance along with a number of transductions and transformations that may aid student understanding.

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  • 36.
    Kapodistrias, Anastasios
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Teaching and Learning.
    Transformation can be just as useful as Transduction: Re-arranging the Friedmann Equations2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Science disciplines utilize a wide range of semiotic resources such as graphs, diagrams, language, mathematics, hands-on work with laboratory equipment, gesture, etc. (Kress et al. 2001). Here, transduction (that is movement between semiotic systems) has been put forward as a powerful teaching and learning tool because this movement between representational systems brings different aspects of a disciplinary concept into focus (Volkwyn et al., 2019). By the same token, transformation (that is making changes within the same semiotic system) has been viewed as less important educationally. In this presentation, we discuss what we call purposeful transformation, where rearrangement of an equation fills an important function. One interesting aspect of purposeful transformation is that it simultaneously raises both the disciplinary and pedagogical affordance of the equation (Airey, 2015; Airey & Linder, 2017). Similar transformations have been documented in other semiotic systems such as graphs (Rodriguez et al., 2020).

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  • 37.
    Kuteeva, Maria
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
    Airey, John
    Disciplinary differences in the use of English in higher education: Reflections on recent language policy developments2014In: Higher Education, ISSN 0018-1560, E-ISSN 1573-174X, Vol. 67, no 5, p. 533-549Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In post-Bologna Europe, there has been a noticeable increase in English-medium instruction. In this article we take the case of Sweden as an illustrative example of the wider disciplinary issues involved in changing the teaching language in this way. By 2008 the use of English in Swedish higher education had risen to such an extent that it had to be regulated at the governmental level and through university language policies. Such policies have attempted to provide generalised pragmatic guidelines for language use across educational programmes. In this paper we argue that such general policies fail to take into consideration fundamental disciplinary differences and their potential impact on language use. We present a theoretical argument about the knowledge structures of disciplines, relating these to the disciplinary literacy goals of educational programmes. We then illustrate our argument using data from an extensive survey carried out at a major Swedish university. We conclude that the disciplinary variation in the use of English can be seen as a product of different knowledge-making practices and educational goals. This conclusion problematises “one-size-fits-all” language policies which only deal with general features of language use and do not allow for discipline-specific adjustments.

  • 38. Larsson, Johanna
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Four discourse models of physics teacher education2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In Sweden, as in many other countries, the education of high-school physics teachers is typically carried out in three different environments; the education department, the physics department and school itself during teaching practice. Trainee physics teachers are in the process of building their professional identity as they move between these three environments. Although much has been written about teacher professional identity (see overview in Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004) little is known about how encounters with the potentially disparate notions of “what counts” in these three environments feed into trainee physics teachers’ professional identity work.

    In this paper we try to capture the different ways the educational practice of teacher education is valued in the discourse of teacher educators. We use the concept of discourse models (Gee, 2005). Our research questions are as follows:

    1. What is signalled as valued (and not valued) by members of the three environments physics teachers meet during their training (school, education department, physics department)?

    2. What discourse models can be identified from these value statements? 

    We carried out semi-structured interviews with instructors from the three environments. Our analysis involved iterative coding of the interview transcripts (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992) to construct discourse models. We identify four competing discourse models and discuss the ways in which these models can be seen to be at work, dictating how educational practice is valued.

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  • 39. Larsson, Johanna
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    On the periphery of university physics: trainee physics teachers' experiences of learning undergraduate physics2021In: European journal of physics, ISSN 0143-0807, E-ISSN 1361-6404, Vol. 42, no 5, article id 055702Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    High school physics teachers have a difficult job to do. On the one hand, they are charged with contributing to the creation of a scientifically literate society, while on the other they play a pivotal role in the recruitment of future physicists. Given the importance of this dual role, one might expect that the training of future physics teachers would be a priority for any physics department. However, research suggests that this is often not the case. While concerns have been raised about future physics teachers' understanding of physics content, less work has focussed on the sociocultural experiences of the learning environments trainees meet when learning undergraduate physics. This case study examines how a sample of trainee physics teachers perceive learning undergraduate physics content together with engineering and physics bachelor students in a large, high-status, research-oriented physics department. The findings aim to be of interest to physics lecturers when examining their own practice. We interviewed 17 trainee physics teachers about their experiences of learning undergraduate physics, how they perceived the relevance of their physics courses for their future role as teachers, and how this affected their physics learning. Here, we identified four central themes of the students' experiences: (1) teacher programme invisibility, (2) passive classroom culture, (3) perceived relevance of physics courses, and (4) no incentive to do well in physics. We discuss how this study illustrates the potential struggles trainee physics teachers may encounter when learning undergraduate physics. We also suggest how our findings may be used to inform the practice of university physics lecturers who come in contact with trainee physics teachers, and comment on the structure and organization of physics teacher education as a whole.

  • 40. Larsson, Johanna
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Danielsson, Anna T.
    Lundqvist, Eva
    A Fragmented Training Environment: Discourse Models in the Talk of Physics Teacher Educators2020In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898, Vol. 50, no 6, p. 2559-2585Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article reports the results of an empirical study exploring the discourses of physics teacher educators. We ask how the expressed understandings of a physics teacher education programme in the talk of teacher educators potentially support the identity construction of new teachers. Nine teacher educators from different sections of a physics teacher programme in Sweden were interviewed. The concept of discourse models was used to operationalise how the discourses of the teacher education programme potentially enable the performance of different physics teacher identities. The analysis resulted in the construction of four discourse models that could be seen to be both enabling and limiting the kinds of identity performances trainee physics teachers can enact. Knowledge of the models thus potentially empowers trainee physics teachers to understand the different goals of their educational programme and from there make informed choices about their own particular approach to becoming a professional physics teacher. We also suggest that for teacher educators, knowledge of the discourse models could facilitate making conscious, informed decisions about their own teaching practice.

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  • 41. Larsson, Johanna
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Lundqvist, Eva
    How does the culture of physics affect physics teacher education?2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper we ask how the culture of physics may affect physics teacher education. Our interest is motivated by the pessimistic description of the status of physics teacher education in the US reported by the Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics (T-TEP) (2012). We present the results of an empirical study that examines the culture of physics in Sweden. The main finding is what we call the physics expert model. This was the dominant framing that physicists and physics teachers used in our interviews to talk about physics teacher education. The goal of the physics expert model is to create future physicists, something that is clearly at odds with the purpose of physics teacher education (which is to create future physics teachers). We discuss the implications of the dominance of the physics expert model and suggest that our results offer an important explanatory interpretation of the chronic problems of physics teacher training described in the T-TEP report.

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  • 42. Larsson, Johanna
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Lundqvist, Eva
    Swimming against the Tide: Five Assumptions about Physics Teacher Education Sustained by the Culture of Physics Departments2021In: Journal of Science Teacher Education, ISSN 1046-560X, E-ISSN 1573-1847, Vol. 32, no 8, p. 934-951Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study explores the culture of physics departments in Sweden in relation to physics teacher education. The commitment of physics departments to teacher education is crucial for the quality of physics teacher education and the way in which physics lecturers talk about teacher education is significant, since it can affect trainees’ physics learning and the choice to become a physics teacher. We analyzed interviews with eleven physicists at four Swedish universities, looking for assumptions in relation to teacher training that are expressed in their talk. We found five tacit assumptions about physics teacher training, that together paint a picture of trainee physics teachers moving in the “wrong” direction, against the tide of physics. These are the Physics Expert Assumption: the purpose of all undergraduate physics teaching is to create physics experts. The Content Assumption: the appropriate physics content for future school physics teachers is the same as that for future physicists. The Goal Assumption: the role of a school physics teacher is to create new physicists. The Student Assumption: students who become physics teachers do not have the ability to make it as successful physicists. The Teaching Assumption: If you know physics then it’s not difficult to teach it. We suggest that these five assumptions, if perpetuated without reflection, risk working against high quality physics teacher education. For physics teacher educators, our results can be used as a lens to reflect on the local departmental culture and its effect on teacher education.

  • 43. Thogersen, Jacob
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Language Education.
    Lecturing undergraduate science in Danish and in English: A comparison of speaking rate and rhetorical style2011In: English for specific purposes (New York, N.Y.), ISSN 0889-4906, E-ISSN 1873-1937, Vol. 30, no 3, p. 209-221Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper investigates the consequences of L2 use in university lectures. Data in the study stem from parallel lectures held by the same experienced lecturer in Danish (L1) and English (L2). It is found that the lecturer takes 22% longer to present the same content in L2 compared to L1, and that the lecturer speaks 23% more slowly in L2 than in L1. In the second part of the paper these differences are investigated through a qualitative analysis of parallel extracts from the same data set. Here it is found that when teaching in English the lecturer uses a higher degree of repetition and adopts a more formal and condensed style as compared to the rhetorical style in L1. Finally, the potential consequences of these quantitative and qualitative differences for student learning are discussed.

  • 44. Volkwyn, Trevor
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Gregorcic, Bor
    Linder, Cedric
    Developing representational competence: linking real-world motion to physics concepts through graphs2020In: Learning Research and Practice, ISSN 2373-5082, Vol. 6, no 1, p. 88-107Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A social semiotic lens is used to characterise aspects of representational competence for a discipline such as physics, to provide science teachers with a practical suggestion about how student learning might be organised to develop representational competence. We suggest that representational competence for some areas of science can be characterised in terms of the ability to appropriately interpret and produce a set of disciplinary-scientific representations of real-world phenomena, and link these to scientific concepts. This is because many areas of science are based on creating scientific explanations of real-world observations. We then show how this characterisation may be applied by performing a social semiotic audit of what it entails to become representationally competent in one particular semiotic system (graphs) for one particular area of physics (1-D kinematics). Using this audit, we generate three open-ended tasks expected to help students develop representational competence in this area and empirically demonstrate their potential effectiveness. Building on this example, we suggest that our description of how a disciplinary social semiotic audit may be used to construct open-ended student learning tasks potentially provides one way for teachers to think about the development of representational competence in other semiotic systems and other areas of science.

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  • 45. 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.

  • 46. Volkwyn, Trevor S.
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Gregorcic, Bor
    Heijkenskjöld, Filip
    Multimodal Transduction in Upper-secondary School Physics2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this study we video-filmed upper-secondary physics students working with a laboratory task designed to encourage transduction (Bezemer & Kress 2008) when learning about coordinate systems.

    Students worked in pairs with an electronic measurement device to determine the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. The device, IOLab, can be held in the hand and moved around. The results of this movement are graphically displayed on a computer screen as changes in the x, y and z components of the Earth’s magnetic field. The students were simply instructed to use the IOLab to find the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field and mark its direction using a red paper arrow.

    A full multimodal transcription of the student interaction was made (Baldry & Thibault 2006). In our analysis of this transcription, three separate transductions of meaning were identified—transduction of meaning potential in the room to the computer screen, transduction of this meaning to the red arrow, and finally transduction into student gestures. We suggest that this final transduction could not have been made without the introduction of the arrow, which functioned as a coordinating hub (Fredlund et al 2012).

    We recommend that teachers should carefully think about the resources in a task that may function as a coordinating hub and should also look for student transductions in their classrooms as confirmation that learning is taking place.

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  • 47. Volkwyn, Trevor S.
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Gregorcic, Bor
    Heijkenskjöld, Filip
    Working with magnetic field to learn about coordinate systems: A social semiotic approach2017Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the teaching and learning of physics, a wide range of semiotic resources are used, such as spoken and written language, graphs, diagrams, mathematics, hands on work with apparatus, etc. (Lemke, 1998). In this respect it has been argued that there is a critical constellation of semiotic resources that is needed for appropriate construction of any given disciplinary concept (Airey & Linder, 2009; Airey, 2009). In this social semiotic tradition, it is the development of “fluency” in the individual semiotic resource systems and the ease of transduction (movement and coordination of meaning) between the various semiotic resource systems that makes disciplinary learning possible. We report here findings from an interpretive study of physics students working with a laboratory task designed to encourage transduction when learning about coordinate systems. A hand-held electronic measurement device (IOLab) was used to display components of the Earth’s magnetic field in real time. Our intention was for students to experience the movability of coordinate systems by open-ended investigation of dynamic, real-time changes in the x, y and z components displayed on the computer screen as they manipulated the device. Building on earlier work of Fredlund et. al. (2012) our analysis identifies three types of transduction, the last of which is transduction of meaning to a new modality (iconic gesture) not previously used by the students. We suggest this final form of transduction is indicative of what students have learned and offers the teacher a chance to confirm/challenge student conceptions. Our data clearly demonstrates how careful, open-ended task design, coupled with timely instructor questions can leverage the pedagogical affordances (Airey, 2015) of a range of semiotic resources to make physics learning possible. We therefore claim that understanding the roles that different semiotic resources play for physics learning is vital and call for further research in this area.

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  • 48. Volkwyn, Trevor S.
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Gregorcic, Bor
    Heijkenskjöld, Filip
    Linder, Cedric
    Coordinating multiple resources to learn physics2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    It has been argued that for any given physics task there is a critical constellation of resources that students need to become proficient in handling in order for physics learning to take place. This is because different resources offer access to different information i.e. they have different pedagogical and disciplinary affordances. A laboratory exercise requiring coordination of multiple resources was designed to help students appreciate the movability of coordinate systems. Initially students were unable to coordinate the manipulation of a hand-held measuring device (IOLab) and observe changes in three readouts on a computer screen, whilst simultaneously drawing conclusions in their discussions with each other and the facilitator. However, the introduction of a paper arrow allowed students to quickly coordinate the resources and begin to experience the movability of coordinate systems. The study confirms earlier work on critical constellations of resources and the functioning of persistent resources as coordinating hubs.

  • 49. Volkwyn, Trevor S.
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Gregorcic, Bor
    Heijkenskjöld, Filip
    Linder, Cedric
    Physics students learning about abstract mathematical tools while engaging with “invisible” phenomena2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The construction of physics knowledge of necessity entails a range of semiotic resources, (e.g. specialized language, graphs, algebra, diagrams, equipment, gesture, etc.). In this study we documented physics students' use of different resources when working with an "invisible" phenomenon--magnetic field. Using a social semiotic framework, we show how appropriate coordination of resources not only enabled students to learn something about the Earth's magnetic field, but also about the use of an abstract mathematical tool--coordinate systems. Our work leads us to make three suggestions: 

    1. The potential for learning physics can be maximized by designing tasks that encourage students to use a specific set of resources. 

    2. Thought should be put into what this particular set of resources should be and how they may be coordinated.

    3. Close attention to the different resources that students use can allow physics teachers to gauge the learning occurring in their classrooms.

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  • 50. Volkwyn, Trevor S.
    et al.
    Airey, John
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Gregorcic, Bor
    Heijkenskjöld, Filip
    Linder, Cedric
    Teaching the movability of coordinate systems: Discovering disciplinary affordances2017Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    When students are introduced to coordinate systems in their physics textbooks these are usually oriented in the same manner (x increases to the right). There is a real danger then, that students see coordinate systems as fixed. However, as we know, movability is one of the main disciplinary affordances of coordinate systems. Students worked with an open-ended task to find the direction of Earth’s magnetic field. This was achieved by manipulating a measurement device (IOLab) so as to maximize the signal for one component of the field, whilst at the same time keeping the other two components at zero. In the process of completing this task, students came to experience themselves as holding a movable coordinate system. From this point they spontaneously offer elaborations about the usefulness of purposefully setting up coordinate systems for problem solving. In our terms, they have discovered one of the disciplinary affordances of coordinate systems.

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