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Drawing Science: Visual Content Formation in Young Students’ Multimodal Science Compositions
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5802-429X
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores visual formation of science content in young students’ multimodal text-image compositions. In doing so, it also contributes a metalanguage for visual meaning-making about science content in the early school years. Using social semiotic theory, the images and image-text relations of 93 multimodal compositions made by eight-year-old students as part of their science education were analysed. The results show that young students’ visual formation of science content in their text-image compositions is diverse and often complex. The thesis introduces seven types of content representation: theory, natural experience, event, art, person, attitude-evoking, and cultural heritage. These are usually combined with some of the other types. An in-depth analysis of these combinations suggests that the representations do not carry the same weight in creating a coherent multimodal science composition – they either function as the main representation or as a modifier. Mapping students’ representations in relation to teaching also indicates the impact teaching has on students’ visual formation of science content. Furthermore, a broadened analysis provided insights into three types of functions that aesthetics have for visual formation of science content. Each of these fulfils a set of values that makes it more or less aligned with the norms of science. The types correspond to a classic science norm, an extended science norm, and an artistic norm, respectively. Finally, the discussion outlines the implications of the results for teaching and learning. The results are discussed in relation to a broadened focus on content in literacy teaching during the early school years, followed by a discussion on how contributed metalanguage and methodology could function as tools for explicit teaching and assessment, and representations as tools for understanding. In conclusion, the thesis provides a flexible addition to the toolbox for students, teachers and researchers interested in how meaning-making about science content during the early school years works in relation to knowledge and norms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2022. , p. 120
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Educational Sciences ; 28
Keywords [en]
content representation, early school years, science education, multimodal text-making, visual literacy
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Curriculum Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-473173ISBN: 978-91-513-1514-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-473173DiVA, id: diva2:1653661
Public defence
2022-06-10, Betty Pettersson-salen, 14:031, Blåsenhus, von Kraemers allé 1, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

The dissertation will also be broadcasted via Zoom. Please contact the research administrator at phd-edu@uu.se for more information.

Available from: 2022-05-20 Created: 2022-04-22 Last updated: 2022-06-15
List of papers
1. Visual formation of science content in young students’ multimodal compositions – seven content representations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Visual formation of science content in young students’ multimodal compositions – seven content representations
2018 (English)In: Journal of Visual Literacy, ISSN 1051-144X, Vol. 37, no 4, p. 294-316Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores visual formation of science content in multimodal compositions (text and image) made by students through their second school year, and aims to contribute to the body of metalanguage for explicit description and interpretation of this kind of meaning-making. The social semiotic analysis examined both visual and multimodal meaning-making, and resulted in descriptions of seven content representations. These are representing content as theory (content reduced to its most general aspects), as a natural experience (as would be seen with one’s own eyes), as an event (movement, process, perspectives), as art (abstract and/or sensory, vibrant colours and/or experimental shapes), as a person (anthropomorphization of content), as something attitude-evoking (explicitly revealing the author’s attitude towards the content) and as cultural heritage (metaphoric meaning instead of scientific). Among analysed student compositions, these content representations occur both separately and in combinations with each other. Each content representation and its specific combinations of semiotic resources are presented in detail and explained with illustrative examples. Finally, the representations are discussed in terms of their relevance for teaching and assessing visually oriented science literacy in the early school years, and for pre- and in-service teacher training.

Keywords
Content area literacy, early school years, multimodal composing, science education, visual literacy
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Curriculum Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-473163 (URN)10.1080/1051144x.2018.1532761 (DOI)2-s2.0-85082530919 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-04-22 Created: 2022-04-22 Last updated: 2022-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Elementary School Science Teaching and its Outcome in the Form of Students’ Visual Content Representations and their Functions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Elementary School Science Teaching and its Outcome in the Form of Students’ Visual Content Representations and their Functions
(English)In: Acta Didactica Norden, E-ISSN 2535-8219Article in journal (Refereed) In press
Abstract [en]

The study investigates how teaching is related to young students’ visual representation of science content. It does so by studying the teaching of two elementary school teachers during five lessons and comparing how the content is represented visually in the text-image compositions their students produced during each respective lesson. A social semiotic analysis of how different content representations are combined suggests that these representations do not carry the same weight in creating a coherent multimodal science composition. Three of the seven content representations (theory, natural experience, cultural heritage) stand out, in that they do not always have the same function in different compositions. Sometimes they function as the composition’s main visual representation and sometimes as a modifier of one of the other two. The main representation connects image and text content-wise, ensuring that the composition makes sense as a whole. The additional four content representations (art, event, person, attitude-evoking) solely function as modifiers, which add to the main representation without changing its core meaning. Mapping students’ combined representations for each lesson showed a few things. First, lack of instructions regarding images resulted in fewer images and very few self-made ones. Second, model images and scaffolding resulted in more uniform compositions. Third, non-scientific, hereditary main representations resulted solely from lessons without model images. The discussion points out how students both use and produce resources for making meaning about science contents. It also argues that combining representations helps students envision science content and that mapping a student group’s visual content formation is a resource for assessment and classroom conversations.

Keywords
content representation, early school years, science education, multimodal text-making, visual literacy
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Curriculum Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-473168 (URN)
Available from: 2022-04-22 Created: 2022-04-22 Last updated: 2022-05-19
3. Visualizing Norms of Science in Early School Years: Visual Aesthetics and Content Formation in Students' Multimodal Compositions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Visualizing Norms of Science in Early School Years: Visual Aesthetics and Content Formation in Students' Multimodal Compositions
2019 (English)In: Multimodality and Aesthetics / [ed] Elise Seip Tønnessen & Frida Forsgren, Uppsala: Routledge, 2019, p. 170-193Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This book chapter answers the following research question: How do aesthetic aspects of students’ visual formation of science content in the early school years relate to the norms of science? The chapter contributes three types of functions that aesthetics have for visual formation of science content, and the relation of these functions to the norms of science. In the chapter, questions are raised about in what ways and to what extent aesthetic qualities (pleasing or stirring effects on the senses) can contribute to meaning-making about science content, without compromising the quest for knowledge about nature. The purpose is to illuminate how the aesthetics of visual representations in multimodal text-image compositions, made by second grade students as part of their science education, form the science content – the subject matter – dealt with in the compositions, and how this relates to the norms of science. This is done through a prism of various perspectives on aesthetics. The images and image-text relations of multimodal compositions made by second grade students as part of their science education were studied, and the analysis was based on social semiotic theory (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2021; Folkeryd, 2006; Martinec & Salway, 2005). As a result, three main types of visual aesthetic formation of science content in the students’ compositions are presented. These three types are placed along a continuum displaying them as more or less aligned or in tension with the norms of science. The different aesthetics are described as semiotic resources, and then further described in relation to the values that each aesthetic represents. The discussion elaborates on how these types, respectively, correspond to a classic science norm, an extended science norm, and an artistic norm. Each of the three types of content formation function to fulfil a specific set of the epistemic, and cultural and social values described by, e.g., Hempel (1965), Allchin (2001) and Lederman (2007).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Routledge, 2019
Keywords
aesthetics, content representation, early school years, science education, multimodal text-making, visual literacy
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-380674 (URN)10.4324/9781315102665 (DOI)000460969300010 ()978-1-138-10351-1 (ISBN)978-1-315-10266-5 (ISBN)
Conference
Conference on Multimodality and Cultural Change, June 10-12, 2015, Kristiansand, Norway.
Available from: 2019-04-01 Created: 2019-04-01 Last updated: 2022-04-22

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