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Airey, J. & Larsson, J. (2018). Developing students' disciplinary literacy?: The case of university physics. In: Kok-Sing Tang & Kristina Danielsson (Ed.), Global developments in literacy research for science education: (pp. 357-376). Springer
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Developing students' disciplinary literacy?: The case of university physics
2018 (English)In: Global developments in literacy research for science education / [ed] Kok-Sing Tang & Kristina Danielsson, Springer, 2018, p. 357-376Chapter in book (Other academic)
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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2018
Keywords
Comparative education, Disciplinary literacy, Knowledge structures, Singulars versus regions, Undergraduate physics
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-83762 (URN)10.1007/978-3-319-69197-8_21 (DOI)2-s2.0-85045794043 (Scopus ID)9783319691978 (ISBN)9783319691961 (ISBN)
Available from: 2019-05-28 Created: 2019-05-28 Last updated: 2019-06-10Bibliographically approved
Airey, J. (2017). Tarja Nikula, Emma Dafouz, PatMoore and Ute Smit (Eds.). Conceptualising integration in CLIL and multilingual education. (2016),Bristol: Multilingual Matters. 276 pp., ISBN978-1-78309-613-8 (PBK). [Review]. ESP Today - Journal of English for Specific Purposes at Tertiary Level, 5(2), 297-302
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Tarja Nikula, Emma Dafouz, PatMoore and Ute Smit (Eds.). Conceptualising integration in CLIL and multilingual education. (2016),Bristol: Multilingual Matters. 276 pp., ISBN978-1-78309-613-8 (PBK).
2017 (English)In: ESP Today - Journal of English for Specific Purposes at Tertiary Level, E-ISSN 2334-9050, Vol. 5, no 2, p. 297-302Article, book review (Other academic) Published
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Humanities
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-72109 (URN)10.18485/esptoday.2017.5.2.9 (DOI)000419451500009 ()
Available from: 2018-04-04 Created: 2018-04-04 Last updated: 2018-04-04Bibliographically approved
Airey, J., Lauridsen, K. M., Rasanen, A., Salo, L. & Schwach, V. (2017). The expansion of English-medium instruction in the Nordic countries: Can top-down university language policies encourage bottom-up disciplinary literacy goals?. Higher Education, 73(4), 561-576
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The expansion of English-medium instruction in the Nordic countries: Can top-down university language policies encourage bottom-up disciplinary literacy goals?
Show others...
2017 (English)In: Higher Education, ISSN 0018-1560, E-ISSN 1573-174X, Vol. 73, no 4, p. 561-576Article in journal (Refereed) Published
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 disciplinary-specific language-learning outcomes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2017
Keywords
University language policy, Bilingualism, Disciplinary literacy, English-medium instruction, Nordic language policy
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Humanities
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-64199 (URN)10.1007/s10734-015-9950-2 (DOI)000398931400002 ()2-s2.0-84945143686 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2017-05-23 Created: 2017-05-23 Last updated: 2019-08-29Bibliographically approved
Linder, C., Volkwyn, T., Airey, J. & Wikman, S. (2017). Towards modelling formal learning in terms of the multimodal emergence of transduction.. In: : . Paper presented at 6th New Zealand Discourse Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 06-09 December 2017.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards modelling formal learning in terms of the multimodal emergence of transduction.
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (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.

References

Airey, J. & Linder, C. (in press) Social Semiotics in University Physics Education, in Treagust, D., Duit R., Fischer, H. (eds) Multiple Representations in Physics Education: Springer.

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.

Kress G. 2010. Multimodality. A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. London: Routledge.

Davis, B., & Sumara, D. (2006). Complexity and education: Inquiries into learning, teaching and research: Erlbaum.

Linder, A., Airey, J., Mayaba, N., & Webb, P. (2014). Fostering Disciplinary Literacy? South African Physics Lecturers’ Educational Responses to their Students’ Lack of Representational Competence. African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 18(3), 242-252. 

Marton, F. (2015). Necessary Conditions of learning: Routledge

Keywords
representational competency, semiotic resources, multimodal emergence, transduction, fluency, critical constellations
National Category
Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-71503 (URN)
Conference
6th New Zealand Discourse Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 06-09 December 2017
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2016-04113]
Note

Ej belagd 20180327

Available from: 2018-03-13 Created: 2018-03-13 Last updated: 2018-03-27Bibliographically approved
Airey, J. (2016). EAP, EMI or CLIL?. In: The Routledge Handbook of English for Academic Purposes: (pp. 71-83). Routledge
Open this publication in new window or tab >>EAP, EMI or CLIL?
2016 (English)In: The Routledge Handbook of English for Academic Purposes, Routledge, 2016, p. 71-83Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Introduction

In this chapter I discuss the European-inspired notion of content and language integrated learning (CLIL). What makes CLIL different from English-medium instruction (EMI) on the one hand and English for academic purposes (EAP) on the other? A cursory examination of the acronym itself raises a number of questions. The Ls in CLIL-language and learning-are straightforward enough, but what about the I and the C? The I in CLIL stands for integrated: this signals CLIL’s dual emphasis on disciplinary learning outcomes along with language learning. Which brings us to the C in CLIL-content. More than anything else, it is this focus on the teaching of disciplinary content that makes CLIL unique. Can EAP professionals teach content? Can disciplinary experts teach language? Or does the CLIL approach necessarily imply collaboration between language and content teachers? These are some of the questions I address in this chapter.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2016
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Humanities, English Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-99338 (URN)2-s2.0-84967214197 (Scopus ID)9781317328100 (ISBN)9781138774711 (ISBN)
Available from: 2020-12-07 Created: 2020-12-07 Last updated: 2021-05-11Bibliographically approved
Fredlund, T., Linder, C. & Airey, J. (2015). A social semiotic approach to identifying critical aspects. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 4(3), 302-316
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A social semiotic approach to identifying critical aspects
2015 (English)In: International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, ISSN 2046-8253, E-ISSN 2046-8261, Vol. 4, no 3, p. 302-316Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this paper is to propose a social semiotic approach to analysing objects of learning in terms of their critical aspects. Design/methodology/approach – The design for this paper focuses on how the semiotic resources – including language, equations, and diagrams – that are commonly used in physics teaching realise the critical aspects of a common physics object of learning. A social semiotic approach to the analysis of a canonical text extract from optics is presented to illustrate how critical aspects can be identified. Findings – Implications for university teaching and learning of physics stemming from this social semiotic approach are suggested.

Originality/value – Hitherto under-explored similarities between the Variation Theory of Learning, which underpins learning studies, and a social semiotic approach to meaning-making are identified. These similarities are used to propose a new, potentially very powerful approach to identifying critical aspects of objects of learning. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2015
Keywords
Variation theory, Learning study, Critical aspects, Objects of learning, Physics education, Social semiotics, Disciplinary-relevant aspects
National Category
Educational Sciences Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Natural Science, Science Education; Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-45724 (URN)10.1108/IJLLS-01-2015-0005 (DOI)000218881000009 ()2-s2.0-84939540035 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2015-08-17 Created: 2015-08-17 Last updated: 2018-04-18Bibliographically approved
Larsson, J. & Airey, J. (2015). Discourse Models in Swedish Physics Teacher Training: Potential Effects on Professional Identity. In: EARLI 2015 Book of Abstracts: . Paper presented at Towards a reflective society: synergies between learning, teaching and research, 16th Biennial EARLI Conference for research on learning and instruction, 25-29 August, 2015, Limassol (pp. 378-378).
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Discourse Models in Swedish Physics Teacher Training: Potential Effects on Professional Identity
2015 (English)In: EARLI 2015 Book of Abstracts, 2015, p. 378-378Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Introduction

In Sweden, the training of secondary physics teachers generally consists of three parts: physics courses in the physics department, pedagogical core courses in the education department and teaching practice in schools. In this paper we study the discourse models enacted in these three training environments at a large university in Sweden. Our interest is the potential effects these discourse models may have on trainee physics teachers’ professional identity building.

Building a professional identity

Teacher training has numerous goals. Apart from learning subject matter and pedagogical skills, trainees are also in the process of building their professional teacher identity. Here, we argue that in order to support this process as effectively as possible we need to better understand the role the training environment plays in this identity-building process.

The concept of professional identity has been used within educational research in a variety of ways (see for example summaries in Beauchamp & Thomas, 2009 and Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004). For our purposes, we follow Connelly and Clandinin (1999) who view professional identity as consisting of the set of narratives teachers tell about what it means to be a teacher. In order to be judged as professional, these narratives need to be framed within accepted discourse models. As Gee points out:

“[Discourse] allows (and requires) people to be (for a time and place) socioculturally distinctive who's and to accomplish socioculturally distinctive what's. These who's and what's are always defined, partially, in opposition to other sorts of who's and what's, and are always related to models of what count as "valuable" (and "normal") people, activities, and things.” (2005, p. 31).

Thus, our aim is to study the potential effects of a Swedish teacher training programme on trainee physics teachers’ professional identity-building. What interests us are the discourse models that are enacted in the three environments that trainee physics teachers encounter, and the affordances and constraints for the construction of professional identities that these models entail.

Methodology – data collection – analysis

We conducted semi-structured interviews (Kvale, 1996) with nine teacher educators (three physics lecturers, three pedagogy lecturers and three school placement supervisors). The interviews were guided by a smaller number of overarching themes, such as the informant’s opinion about what physics teacher students need to learn. Each of the themes was followed up with open-ended questions in order to elicit the particular concerns of the informant. The interviews lasted around 90 minutes and were later transcribed verbatim, iteratively coded and analysed thematically (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992)

Findings

Our analysis resulted in a number of distinct and potentially competing discourse models (Gee 2005) that are enacted in the three environments trainee physics teachers meet. In this paper we particularly focus on the ‘physics expert’ model (see figure 1). Our reason for focusing on this particular model is that it dominates amongst both teacher educators at the physics department and school placement supervisors. In this model, the primary goal of physics education, both in secondary school and at university level is to create future physics experts.

Figure 1: The physics expert discourse model

In the physics expert discourse model current research into physics and its applications is seen as exciting and motivating both for students and teachers. In contrast, secondary school subject matter is viewed as inherently boring—something that needs to be made interesting. Following this logic, one important thing for trainee teachers to learn is how to keep up with new discoveries in physics in order to make school physics exciting and meaningful.

The physics expert model co-exists with several other discourse models that are more likely to be invoked in the education department. These models value quite different goals such as the development of practical skills, reflective practice, critical thinking and citizenship.

 

Educational significance

Invoking the physics expert model makes the building of a professional identity problematic for trainee physics teachers in a number of ways. First choosing to become a secondary school teacher does not sit very well with the valuing of a physics expert identity. If focused, cutting-edge research is what is valued, why would anyone choose to go and work with physics in an unfocused, general manner in schools? Second, the underlying premises of many of the courses trainee physics teachers take in the education department are difficult to reconcile with this model. For example, if the main role of a physics teacher is the creation of future physicists, important parts of the curriculum such as developing a scientifically literate society become relegated to a subsidiary status.  

Conclusions

We have identified a number of discourse models that we claim tacitly steer what is signalled as valued (and not valued) in the teacher-training programme we studied. For teacher trainers, we argue that a better understanding of these models will allow conscious, informed decisions to be taken about their own teaching practice. For prospective teachers, knowledge of these models is important since it empowers them to question the kind of teacher they want to become. Going forward it would be interesting to see whether similar models can be found in other teacher training programmes both within Sweden and in other countries.

References

Beauchamp, C., & Thomas, L. (2009). Understanding teacher identity: an overview of issues in the literature and implications for teacher education. Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(2), 175–189.

Beijaard, D., Meijer, P. C., & Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(2), 107–128.

Bogdan, R., & Biklen, S. K. (1992). Qualitative research for education : an introduction to theory and methods. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1999). Shaping a professional identity : stories of educational practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Gee, J. P. (2005). An introduction to discourse analysis : theory and method. New York: Routledge.

Kvale, S. (1996). Interviews : an introduction to qualitative research interviewing. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Keywords
Teacher training, Physics, discourse models, Professional identity, narrative
National Category
Didactics Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Natural Science, Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-45733 (URN)
Conference
Towards a reflective society: synergies between learning, teaching and research, 16th Biennial EARLI Conference for research on learning and instruction, 25-29 August, 2015, Limassol
Available from: 2015-08-17 Created: 2015-08-17 Last updated: 2016-02-03Bibliographically approved
Fredlund, T., Airey, J. & Linder, C. (2015). Enhancing the possibilities for learning: variation of disciplinary-relevant aspects in physics representations. European journal of physics, 36(5), Article ID 055001.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Enhancing the possibilities for learning: variation of disciplinary-relevant aspects in physics representations
2015 (English)In: European journal of physics, ISSN 0143-0807, E-ISSN 1361-6404, Vol. 36, no 5, article id 055001Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this theoretical article we propose three factors that can enhance the possibilities for learning physics from representations, namely: (1) the identification of disciplinary-relevant aspects for a particular disciplinary task, such as solving a physics problem or explaining a phenomenon, (2) the selection of appropriate representations that showcase these disciplinary-relevant aspects, and (3) the creation of variation within the selected representations to help students notice these disciplinary-relevant aspects and the ways in which they are related to each other. An illustration of how these three factors can guide teachers in their efforts to promote physics learning is presented.

Keywords
Physics, Higher Education, Variation, Semiotics, Representations
National Category
Didactics Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-45715 (URN)10.1088/0143-0807/36/5/055001 (DOI)000359609100001 ()2-s2.0-84939514887 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 721-2010-5780
Available from: 2015-08-17 Created: 2015-08-17 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
Airey, J. (2015). From stimulated recall to disciplinary literacy: Summarizing ten years of research into teaching and learning in English. In: Dimova, S. Hultgren, A-K. Jensen, C. (Ed.), English-Medium Instruction in European Higher Education: English in Europe. Volume 3 (pp. 157-176). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From stimulated recall to disciplinary literacy: Summarizing ten years of research into teaching and learning in English
2015 (English)In: English-Medium Instruction in European Higher Education: English in Europe. Volume 3 / [ed] Dimova, S. Hultgren, A-K. Jensen, C., Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2015, p. 157-176Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This chapter summarizes my research work in Swedish higher education in the area of teaching and learning in English. Sweden makes for a particularly interesting case study since there are high levels of English competence in the general population and a large percentage of university courses have traditionally been taught through the medium of English.

The work I have done falls into three broad categories:  University learning in English, University teaching in English and Disciplinary differences in attitudes to English language use.

Over the years I have used a range of data collection techniques including video recordings of lectures, semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and stimulated recall. The research work is almost exclusively qualitative in nature adopting a case study approach.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2015
Keywords
English language, Higher education, English medium instruction
National Category
Specific Languages Educational Sciences
Research subject
Humanities, English Education; Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-45718 (URN)2-s2.0-84957355937 (Scopus ID)978-1-61451-527-2 (ISBN)9781614517252 (ISBN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 721-2010-5780
Available from: 2015-08-17 Created: 2015-08-17 Last updated: 2019-08-13Bibliographically approved
Airey, J. & Linder, C. (2015). Social semiotics in university physics education: Leveraging critical constellations of disciplinary representations. In: Jari Lavonen, Kalle Juuti, Jarkko Lampiselkä, Anna Uitto, Kaisa Hahl (Ed.), Science Education Research: Engaging learners for a sustainable future. Paper presented at The 11th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA), Aug. 31 - 4 Sept., 2015 Helsinki. European Science Education Research Association
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social semiotics in university physics education: Leveraging critical constellations of disciplinary representations
2015 (English)In: Science Education Research: Engaging learners for a sustainable future / [ed] Jari Lavonen, Kalle Juuti, Jarkko Lampiselkä, Anna Uitto, Kaisa Hahl, European Science Education Research Association , 2015Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Social semiotics is a broad construct where all communication is viewed as being realized through signs and their signification. In physics education we usually refer to these signs as disciplinary representations. These disciplinary representations are the semiotic resources used in physics communication, such as written and oral languages, diagrams, graphs, mathematics, apparatus and simulations. This alternative depiction of representations is used to build theory with respect to the construction and sharing of disciplinary knowledge in the teaching and learning of university physics. Based on empirical studies of physics students cooperating to explain the refraction of light, a number of theoretical constructs were developed. In this presentation we describe these constructs and examine their usefulness for problematizing teaching and learning in university physics. The theoretical constructs are: fluency in semiotic resources, disciplinary affordance and critical constellations.

The conclusion formulates a proposal that has these constructs provide university physics teachers with a new set of meaningfully and practical tools, which will enable them to re-conceptualize their practice in ways that have the distinct potential to optimally enhance student learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
European Science Education Research Association, 2015
Keywords
Physics, Higher education, semiotic resources, disciplinary affordance, critical constellations, variation, disciplinary relevant aspects, representations
National Category
Didactics Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Natural Science, Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-45734 (URN)9789515115416 (ISBN)
Conference
The 11th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA), Aug. 31 - 4 Sept., 2015 Helsinki
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2010-5780
Note

Purpose

This aim of this theoretical paper is to present representations as semiotic resources in order to make a case for three related constructs that we see as being central to learning with multiple representations in university physics; fluency in semiotic resources, disciplinary affordance and critical constellations. We suggest that an understanding of these constructs is a necessary part of a physics lecturer’s educational toolbox.

Why semiotics?

The construct of representations as it is presently used in science education can, in our opinion, be unintentionally limiting since it explicitly excludes important aspects such as physical objects, (e.g. physics apparatus) and actions (e.g. measuring a value). Clearly, such aspects play a central role in sharing physics meaning and they are explicitly included as semiotic resources in a social semiotic approach. Van Leeuwen (2005:1) explains the preference for the term semiotic resource instead of other terms such as representation claiming that “[…] it avoids the impression that what a [representation] stands for is somehow pre-given, and not affected by its use”. Thus, the term semiotic resource encompasses other channels of meaning making, as well as everything that is generally termed external representations (Ainsworth, 2006).

Why social semiotics?

The reason for adopting social semiotics is that different groups develop their own systems of meaning making. This is often achieved either by the creation of new specialized semiotic resources or by assigning specific specialized meaning to more general semiotic resources. Nowhere is this more salient than in physics where the discipline draws on a wide variety of specialized resources in order to share physics knowledge. In our work in undergraduate physics education we have introduced three separate constructs that we believe are important for learning in physics: fluency in semiotic resources, disciplinary affordance and critical constellations.

 

Fluency in semiotic resources

The relationship between learning and representations has received much attention in the literature. The focus has often been how students can achieve “representational competence” (For a recent example see Linder et al 2014). In this respect, different semiotic resources have been investigated, including mathematics, graphs, gestures, diagrams and language. Considering just one of these resources, spoken language, it is clear that in order to share meaning using this resource one first needs to attain some sort of fluency in the language in question. We have argued by extension that the same holds for all the semiotic resources that we use in physics (Airey & Linder, 2009). It is impossible to make meaning with a disciplinary semiotic resource without first becoming fluent in its use. By fluency we mean a process through which handling a particular semiotic resource with respect to a given piece of physics content becomes unproblematic, almost second-nature. Thus, in our social semiotic characterization, if a person is said to be fluent in a particular semiotic resource, then they have come to understand the ways in which the discipline generally uses that resource to share physics knowledge. Clearly, such fluency is educationally critical for understanding the ways that students learn to combine semiotic resources, which is the interest of this symposium. However, there is more to learning physics than achieving fluency. For example:

 

MIT undergraduates, when asked to comment about their high school physics, almost universally declared they could “solve all the problems” (and essentially all had received A's) but still felt they “really didn't understand at all what was going on”. diSessa (1993, p. 152)

 

Clearly, these students had acquired excellent fluency in disciplinary semiotic resources, yet still lacked a qualitative conceptual understanding.

 The disciplinary affordance of semiotic resources

Thus, we argue that becoming fluent in the use of a particular semiotic resource, though necessary, is not sufficient for an appropriate physics understanding. For an appropriate understanding we argue that students need to come to appreciate the disciplinary affordance of the semiotic resource (Fredlund, Airey, & Linder, 2012; Fredlund, Linder, Airey, & Linder, 2015). We define disciplinary affordance as the potential of a given semiotic resource to provide access to disciplinary knowledge. Thus we argue that combining fluency with an appreciation of the disciplinary affordance of a given semiotic resource leads to appropriate disciplinary meaning making. However, in practice the majority of physics phenomena cannot be adequately represented by one a single semiotic resource. This leads us to the theme of this symposium—the combination of multiple representations.

 Critical constellations – the significance of this work for the symposium theme

The significance of the social semiotic approach we have outlined for work on multiple representations lies in the concept of critical constellations.

Building on the work of Airey & Linder (2009), Airey (2009) suggests there is a critical constellation of disciplinary semiotic resources that are necessary for appropriate holistic experience of any given disciplinary concept. Using our earlier constructs we can see that students will first need to become fluent in each of the semiotic resources that make up this critical constellation. Next, they need to come to appreciate the disciplinary affordance of each separate semiotic resource. Then, finally, they can attempt to grasp the concept in an appropriate, disciplinary manner. In this respect, Linder (2013) suggests that disciplinary learning entails coming to appreciate the collective disciplinary affordance of a critical constellation of semiotic resources.

 Recommendations

There are a number of consequences of this work for the teaching and learning of physics. First, we claim that teachers need to provide opportunities for their students to achieve fluency in a range of semiotic resources. Next teachers need to know more about the disciplinary affordances of the individual semiotic resources they use in their teaching (see Fredlund et al 2012 for a good example of this type of work).

Finally teachers need to contemplate which critical constellations of semiotic resources are necessary for making which physics knowledge available to their students. In this respect physics teachers need to appreciate that knowing their students as learners includes having a deep appreciation of the kinds of critical constellations that their particular students need in order to effectively learn physics

 

References

Ainsworth, S. (2006). DeFT: A conceptual framework for considering learning with multiple representations. Learning and Instruction, 16(3), 183-198.

Airey, J. (2009). Science, Language and Literacy. Case Studies of Learning in Swedish University Physics. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology 81. Uppsala  Retrieved 2009-04-27, from http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A173193&dswid=-4725

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.

diSessa, A. A. (1993). Toward an Epistemology of Physics. Cognition and Instruction, 10(2 & 3), 105-225.

Fredlund, T., Airey, J., & Linder, C. (2012). Exploring the role of physics representations: an illustrative example from students sharing knowledge about refraction. European Journal of Physics, 33, 657-666.

Fredlund, T., Linder, C., Airey, J., & Linder, A. (2015). Unpacking physics representations: towards an appreciation of disciplinary affordance. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res., 10( 020128 (2014)).

Linder, A., Airey, J., Mayaba, N., & Webb, P. (2014). Fostering Disciplinary Literacy? South African Physics Lecturers’ Educational Responses to their Students’ Lack of Representational Competence. African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 18(3). doi: 10.1080/10288457.2014.953294

Linder, C. (2013). Disciplinary discourse, representation, and appresentation in the teaching and learning of science. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 1(2), 43-49.

van leeuwen, T. (2005). Introducing social semiotics. London: Routledge.

Available from: 2015-08-17 Created: 2015-08-17 Last updated: 2024-02-27Bibliographically approved
Projects
Semiotic resources and disciplinary literacy [2010-05780_VR]; Uppsala UniversitySemiotic resources and disciplinary literacy [2010-07587_VR]; Uppsala University
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0003-3244-2586

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