Research in Science Education

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Online ISSN: 1573-1898
Print ISSN: 0157-244X
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This study investigated how an intervention consisting of a series of physical science lessons embedded within the elementary science methods course impacted elementary preservice teachers’ (N = 473) science content knowledge as evidenced in their scaled scores for the science content component of a standardized subject certification examinations for elementary teachers (TExES Core Subjects EC-6, Science (804) exam). The science content component of the certification exam was the instrument used to generate data for this study. The independent variables for this study were the timing of the exam attempt compared to the participation in the science intervention. The dependent variables included the scaled score for the exam and the science content competencies. Results for an independent sample t-test indicated that the difference between the mean scores for these two groups was statistically significant (t = − 4.21, df = 102, p < .001) with the preintervention group scoring lower compared to the postintervention group. Mean scores for the exam were higher (MS = 57.7%, SD = 29.8%) than the mean score for exam attempts occurring before the intervention (MS = 44.4%, SD = 29.2%). The results suggest that the intervention implemented as part of the science methods course had a positive impact on prospective teachers. That is, their science content knowledge resulted in an increased passing rate on the certification exam.
Overall schedule for the intervention program
Significant group × gender interaction on T3 science motivation
Time-series developmental trajectory of science interest and self-efficacy by group
Emerging evidence attests to the need to intervene in young students’ science motivation and achievement before their science motivation starts to dwindle. Heeding this call, we implemented a science utility value intervention for fifth and sixth graders in 23 classrooms (N = 550). Through five intervention sessions that consisted of diverse individual and group activities including writing, students learned and internalized the personal and communal usefulness of science for 14 popular non-STEM professions as well as their own aspired future careers. After the intervention, the students in the experimental condition perceived greater utility value of science, were more interested and self-efficacious in their science classes, expressed greater appreciation of the role science played in their future careers, and aspired to science-related careers more strongly than the students in the control condition. The intervention was especially effective for improving the personal utility value, appreciation, and science-related career intention of girls. The advantage of the experimental group in science interest and self-efficacy, compared to the control group that received a delayed intervention, was maintained till the end of the semester. The findings provide important empirical and practical insights into designing effective science interventions for young learners.
Three major sources of data
The overall analytical process
PowerPoint slide used in classroom teaching
Screenshot of classroom interaction
While technology advancement and scientific innovation have created new topics and fields of inquiry in STEM education, external content experts such as university scientists/researchers have been increasingly involved to enhance K-12 teachers’ disciplinary understandings and professional development (PD). However, few studies have scrutinized scientist-facilitated PD programs regarding teacher epistemology, about how and in what ways the programs impact teachers’ epistemological understandings of disciplinary knowledge. To address the gap, this paper investigates the process by which teachers construct epistemological understandings and teaching practices in interacting with scientists. Informed by theories of epistemic cognition and social cognition, we conducted an interactional ethnography in a school-university partnered PD program with six primary teachers. Based on participant observation, teacher interviews, and classroom videos and artifacts, we identified three patterns of teacher-scientist negotiation: reciprocal negotiation of knowledge presentation, observation and interpretation of scientist practices, and inconsistency in knowledge translation. The teachers’ professional responsibility and knowledge served as a critical filter in their decisions of selecting, interpreting, and rejecting scientist inputs, leading to respective epistemological stances and pedagogical actions. The research uncovers the situated and multifaceted negotiation of teacher epistemology and offers implications for researching and supporting their epistemological development.
This work analyzes whether there is a cognitive bias between the ideal perception of the skills and the real performance in an introductory physics class, and additionally, whether predictions of students’ performance are related to various motivational variables. We examined through a validated survey and network analysis the relationship between several motivational aspects and volitional variables with the accuracy of their predictions. The results show that the students present a motivational bias when students’ desires were considered, mainly in the students with low academic performance. Finally, it is necessary to explore the development of specific interventions that target the motivations of students, in order to be effective, and to reduce the gap between expected and actual grades, increasing students’ metacognitive skills and thus their academic performance.
The mean scores on (a) self-efficacy, (b) interest, (c) identity, (d) perceived recognition, (e) sense of belonging, and (f) peer interaction are plotted along with their standard error. Note that the responses for (a), (b), (c), (d), and (f) are on a Likert scale of 1–4 (with the plot restricted to 2–4 for visibility), and the responses for (e) are on a Likert scale from 1–5 (with the plot restricted to 2–5). The mean scores are plotted separately for the matched pre and post survey responses of physics majors in each of the four undergraduate years as well as first-year non-physics majors and first-year physics Ph.D. students (“Ph.D.”). Since the questions pertaining to peer interaction were only given in the post survey, only post scores are plotted for those responses. The sample size is reported next to each point. Lines connecting points are drawn as guides to the eye
The importance of science beliefs such as self-efficacy, interest, identity, sense of belonging, perceived recognition and effectiveness of peer interaction in science education has been increasingly recognized in recent years. Self-efficacy, interest, and identity can be considered students’ internal beliefs, and sense of belonging, perceived recognition and effectiveness of peer interaction relate to students’ perception of the inclusiveness of the instructional environment. Prior studies in physics education regarding these beliefs have focused primarily on introductory physics courses. Here, we use five years of data from a validated survey administered to non-majors (in courses with physics majors) during their first year, physics majors throughout their undergraduate education, and first-year physics Ph.D. students at a large research university in the United States. We find that physics majors in the first year responded to the survey prompts more positively than their non-physics major peers who were in the same introductory courses, with the largest differences in perceived recognition, interest, and physics identity and somewhat smaller differences in self-efficacy, perception of peer interaction, and sense of belonging. Further, the average survey responses of physics majors for each belief remain largely constant over time from their first year of the undergraduate curriculum through the last year and comparable to the Ph.D. students. This suggests that students are adjusting their interpretation of the survey items to match the current level of expertise expected of them in the course in which the survey was administered. One exception occurs in the second year, when peer interaction and sense of belonging reach a minimum. This may be the case because the second year is a particularly difficult time for students as they adjust to classes consisting primarily of physics majors. Moreover, physics identity dips to the lowest value in the fourth year when many students are contemplating continuing in physics beyond their undergraduate years or switching fields. We also find that, consistent with prior studies with introductory students, perceived recognition is the best predictor of physics identity for physics majors throughout their entire physics education, pointing to the importance of instructors making a concerted effort to recognize and affirm their students throughout their education.
Children’s mastery orientation vs. their parents’ emphasis on performance before (A) and after (B) pandemic outbreak
Children’s performance orientation vs. their parents’ emphasis on performance before (A) and after (B) pandemic outbreak
Children’s science self-efficacy vs. their parents’ emphasis on performance before (A) and after (B) pandemic outbreak
With the transition to distance-learning at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, several countries required parents and their children to remain at home, under lockdown. Many parents found themselves taking on additional responsibilities regarding their children’s education. However, children do not always interpret their parents’ intentions as they intended. This study investigated this complex relationship, showing that parents’ emphases regarding science learning changed during the first COVID-19 lockdown and in parallel, the relations between these emphases and their adolescent children’s goal orientation and self-efficacy toward science learning also changed. In 2019, one year before the COVID-19 lockdown, the children’s mastery and performance orientations toward science, and their self-efficacy in science were significantly correlated with their parent’s attitudes toward science. In 2020, shortly after the end of the first COVID-19 lockdown, these relations remained significant, but in addition the parents’ emphasis on performance became a significant predictor of the children’s mastery and performance orientations, and of their self-efficacy in science. A small increase in the children’s performance orientation and self-efficacy in science was seen, and only a small decline in their mastery orientation toward science. These findings contrast with what the literature indicates is typical at this age, when there are no lockdown conditions.
The goal of this study was to examine the way preservice science teachers depict and develop their understanding of nature of science (NOS), from the perspective of the family resemblance approach (FRA). FRA defines NOS as a Cognitive-Epistemic and Social-Institutional system. Appling the dual-analytic approach via reflective drawing analysis, we studied participants’ drawings and written explanations, before and after participating in a “methods of teaching” course. The findings indicated a significant increase in the number of preservice science teachers who associated NOS with scientific practices, methods and methodological rules, scientific knowledge, and scientists’ professional activities. The findings also indicated an increase in the number of categories identified within the Cognitive-Epistemic domain, and an increase in the number of new categories associated with the Social-Institutional domain. The FRA-related activities resulted in an improvement trajectory, indicating a transition from a stance based on a learner’s perspective of asking everyday questions toward a more epistemic, social, and institutional stance, depicting understanding of NOS from a scientist viewpoint.
Latent change score model with two latent factors (T1, T2) for the two measurement occasions (pre- and posttest) based on the same set of indicators (X1 to Xn). Change between measurement occasions is modeled as an additional latent factor (Δ), including covariation of change with the initial factor (ϕ1Δ). Factor loadings of identical items (pre/post) are restricted to be equal across measurement occasions. Residuals are allowed to correlate between measurement occasions
True individual change model with two latent variables reflecting students’ pretest score (T1) and the true change score from pre- to posttest (T2–T1), respectively (cf. Steyer et al., 1997). Factor loadings of identical items (pre/post) on the first latent variable are restricted to be equal, factor loadings on the change factor are freely estimated. Residuals are allowed to correlate between measurement occasions
Difference in item thresholds from pre to post and corresponding 95% confidence interval for all items of each of the three question levels (verbatim, propositional, and situation model) and topic areas (atomic structure – red; chemical reaction – blue; acids/bases – green)
The use of texts is an indispensable resource for students’ learning, especially in science domains. While developing understanding of a specific topic usually is the main goal of reading expository texts, an important consideration is how to best measure whether this understanding has been reached. In this study, we aimed to analyze gains in students’ reading comprehension based on reading three expository texts on chemistry and physics topics. By means of a pre–post design, we assessed the reading comprehension of 261 eighth grade students with regard to three levels of reading comprehension. Latent change scores were estimated to analyze changes in students’ total test scores, while also calculating difference scores based on the single items. Results indicate that students’ topic-related comprehension increases from pre- to posttest, while gains seem to be limited to word and sentence level questions. In line with other studies, these findings stress that students would benefit from explicit strategy instruction, at least when learning from reading is the goal of using science texts in classrooms.
In an increasingly complex media environment, science educators must help prepare students to make decisions on science-related issues that are in the best interest of themselves and their communities. Researchers have suggested the use of socioscientific issues (SSI) to teach students how to think scientifically and to make good decisions regarding science-related issues. To support students in their learning, growth, and thinking when considering SSI, it is helpful to know how people think about SSI. Understanding the knowledge domains that people draw from when considering SSI will help researchers and teachers support students in their thinking and decision-making regarding SSI. Many studies have looked at how people use individual knowledge domains, but few have looked at multiple knowledge domains in concert. This study investigated the knowledge domains that secondary science teachers use when considering a regional SSI. Participants were interviewed using a think-aloud protocol, in which they read an article about an SSI and were asked to verbalize their thinking about the issue. Findings indicate that participants in our study drew most often from the domains of media literacy and the nature of technology (NOT). We suggest that such domains deserve more attention than they have received in science classrooms if students are to be more fully prepared to engage with SSI.
In common with many other countries, the Iranian science curriculum does not introduce primary children to atoms and molecules but instead leaves the teaching of these concepts until high school. This paper challenges this practice and describes the changes in elementary Iranian children’s understanding of atoms and molecules following a 10-h teaching intervention about basic atomic-molecular theory, derived from recently published Australian research. The participants involved in this study are a group of 25 Iranian children aged 9 to 12 years old, who participated in a vacation summer school where they were taught about the structure of atoms and molecules. Thematic and content analysis of children’s written responses and drawings before and after the intervention reveal significant changes in their conceptual thinking. The results also show the extent to which the children can generate microscopic representations of the states of matter from their understanding of atoms and molecules.
Teacher agency regarding IBSI
Inquiry-based science instruction (IBSI) has the potential to contribute to social justice through widening participation and success in science. However, teachers struggle to implement IBSI because of contextual factors. The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of agency as a framework for understanding teachers’ decision-making, by asking the question: what was the agency of six science teachers in their social-justice aspirations and use of IBSI? An agency framework recognizes that teachers’ decisions are informed by their internal conversations at the intersection of personal aspects (their history, repertoire, and aspirations) with the cultural and structural constraints and resources of their contexts. However, research on IBSI has focussed on teachers’ personal aspects or their perceptions of contextual factors. The sample had learnt IBSI through service learning in the context of a science fair. From teacher interviews, it emerged that these teachers had strong social-justice aspirations to serve disadvantaged students. The teachers linked their social-justice aspirations to their choice of school rather than their use of IBSI. The teachers at better-resourced schools initiated participation in science fairs at their schools, whilst the rest judged that science fairs were not appropriate for their students. The results suggest that, rather than prescribing particular pedagogies, teacher education programmes should aim to increase teachers’ pedagogical repertoires, in order to enrich their agency in whatever contexts they teach.
It is reported that engineering for play-based settings is a new body of knowledge under debate and contradictory. Many studies show how play-based settings are full of engineering possibilities for young children, whilst others have identified missed engineering teaching possibilities. In order to better understand the research, this paper answers the questions, ‘How is engineering knowledge being constructed through research into play-based settings?’, and ‘What do the results show for practice and future engineering research for preschool settings?’ To answer these questions, a critique of those studies which focused on engineering education in play-based settings was undertaken. By examining existing studies in relation to the study designs and the results, this paper reports on how categories of engineering knowledge were established and how knowledge was constructed for engineering education for play-based settings. Using cultural-historical theory, the results show that studies of play-based setting have primarily been guided by practices from only some engineering professions, knowledge construction is based on both pre-defined and emergent categories, and research has tended to focus mostly on constructing (e.g. blocks). Gendered engineering knowledge was also identified, suggesting only partial understandings of engineering education evident. The critique not only identified knowledge construction that positively contributes to scholarship but also found gaps in what was being studied, thereby contributing to research by cautioning against full acceptance of the existing analytical concepts in the literature and suggesting that the building of a broader set of analytical categories for future research is needed.
Comparison of representative U1 and U2 models of similar scores
Example of U2 student’s DAETT and reading discussion post
This sequential explanatory mixed methods study (quant + QUAL) examined elementary preservice teachers’ conceptions of teaching engineering. Participants (n = 104) from two large western universities completed the Draw-An-Engineering-Teacher-Test (DAETT) as part of their elementary science methods course. Additionally, a subgroup of participants (n = 34) engaged in a case-based reasoning intervention around engineering design–based teaching, while remaining participants (n = 70) did not. No significant differences were detected between the two subgroups for DAETT scores. Upon examination of DAETT for evidence of engineering design-based teaching, it was noted that participants in both groups gravitated towards specific constructs of engineering design, such as building and testing, while constructs such as student problem scoping and optimization were less likely to be represented. Participants from both groups also conflated science and engineering, with roughly half of participants’ drawings being void of engineering design–based teaching. The drawings that lacked evidence of engineering design often exhibited characteristics of traditional science teaching (e.g., teacher lectures or demonstrations of science concepts). Preservice teacher artifacts indicated an increase in participants’ breadth of knowledge around engineering teaching but not their depth of knowledge on the topic. Researchers argue this evidence supports the need for primary school science methods courses to include additional opportunities for engineering engagement.
In this study we address the need to promote student engagement with school science and the need to measure a more comprehensive conception of engagement considering three dimensions of engagement: emotional, behavioural, and cognitive. We address the first issue by designing and implementing a model-based inquiry instructional sequence focused on fostering students’ engagement with science. The second issue is addressed by developing and testing a heuristic that measures student engagement holistically by focusing on all three dimensions mentioned. The results report that our short MBI instructional sequence develop students’ emotional engagement because most of them recognize to having felt interest, concentration, and satisfaction and few students reported boredom, shame, or rejection during the teaching. They spent most of the time working in small groups and sharing-discussing their hypothesis, planning and evaluating their experimental designs, and building models to explain acid-base phenomena together which highlight behavioural and cognitive dimension of students’ engagement in our instructional sequence about chewing gum and pH of the mouth. The heuristic is designed to gather data continuously during instruction with minimal disruption to the learning and teaching sequence. The heuristic can be used by teachers, researchers, and also by students, to gain multi-level understandings about engagement by focusing on individual, group-level, or class-level analysis of responses.
Structural equation model of CPAC after confirmatory factor analysis with two factor structure act and flow
Gender differences for CPAC’s creativity dimensions act and flow dependent on age groups
Principal component analysis with BFI-10 after oblique rotation (valid N = 538)
Integrating creativity into science classes may pave the way to tapping complex scientific phenomena. Although not yet conclusively defined nor assessed using standardized measures, creativity is understood to support cognitive learning in formal and informal settings. However, the successful integration of creativity in educational modules depends on many factors. As our knowledge of how to identify these factors is still limited, teachers may have difficulties effectively monitoring and fostering creativity. Consequently, a valid means to measure creativity would help teachers to identify creativity and its influencing factors within the limited scope of science lessons. In the present study, we collected data from 538 Bavarian secondary school students (M ± SD = 16.96 ± 2.99; 65.4%, female) focussing on personality and creativity measures. Comparable to previous studies, two subscales for creativity were applied: act, comprising conscious and adaptable cognitive processes, and flow, describing a creative mental state of full immersion. Since personality is understood to be linked to creativity, we used the Big Five scale with its shortened item battery to assess personality. We found that personal characteristics such as conscientiousness and flow, openness and agreeableness, and extraversion and neuroticism were significantly correlated. Anticipated gender and age differences were only evident when extreme groups were compared: age influenced act in younger male students and flow in older female students. Drawing on the literature and our results, we suggest pedagogical approaches to provide opportunities for creativity in science classrooms.
Explicit-reflective nature of science (NOS) instruction has demonstrated a positive impact on student learning. Although explicit-reflective NOS instruction often consists of questions that draw students’ attention to NOS ideas, there are few recommendations in the science education literature about how the form of these questions might inform NOS educational methods and pedagogy. While some questions in the literature simply point students’ thinking in a general direction, other questions require students to justify particular NOS ideas, or prompt them to choose between two positions. Given that NOS questions often seem to differ in the degree to which they direct student thinking, this study sought to examine the nature of student responses to different question types. Data was collected through writing. Four different versions of a reading were created with questions related to scientific method. Each version included a different question type: three drawn from Gallagher and Aschner’s (1963) category system (evaluative, convergent, and divergent), and a general question that did not reference NOS. Readings were randomly distributed to 285 sixth grade students. Responses were analyzed using the provisional codes: normative, descriptive, misconception, off-topic. Using a Chi-squared test of independence and corresponding percentages, clear and statistically significant differences were observed in student responses to different question types. Drawing on the data from this study, convergent questioning seems more suited to the purpose of guiding students to an accurate conception of NOS, while divergent and evaluative NOS questions may make better assessment questions.
Science instructors assume that they have created their laboratory curriculum in such a way as to reflect an ideal science instructional laboratory, but students may not recognize this. A recent study used the Student Perceptions of the College Instructional Laboratory Survey (SPCILS) to examine students’ perceptions of their science instructional laboratory as intended by the instructors. What this study did not indicate, though, is whether students more interested in science perceive the science instructional lab as intended by the instructors. Because an appropriate instrument is not available, researchers have not been able to assess students’ casual interest in science. Interest, however, is considered one of the most effective motivational forces of learning. Hence, we developed the Casual Interest in Science Survey (CISS). Employing the CISS, this study used a quantitative design to examine undergraduate students’ perceptions of their science instructional laboratory with respect to their casual interest in science. Interest and perception data were collected at a Midwestern University in the USA. The findings suggest that undergraduate students are interested in science. Major status influenced students’ perceptions of their science instructional laboratory with respect to their casual interest in science. However, gender does not influence students’ perceptions of their science instructional labs with respect to casual interest in science. This study provides baseline data for future qualitative studies about how major and gender might be influencing students’ perceptions of their science instructional laboratory with respect to their casual interest in science.
As societal needs change and STEM solutions are offered, an increasing concern for the participation of girls in STEM has emerged. Research has consistently shown the unintended preferential treatment of boys by teachers during STEM teaching and, although well recognised, has seen limited change over the past decades. Gendered interactions, including microaggressions, influence girls’ identity formation from a young age, leading to a decrease in girls’ STEM participation. This results in the ongoing trend of underrepresentation of women in STEM fields due to underlying gender equity issues. To improve this gender gap, it is important to consider the beginning of the STEM pipeline, the early stages of education. Drawing upon the system of concepts from the cultural-historical theory, this study explores the motivating conditions created by the Conceptual PlayWorld model for girls’ engagement in STEM in the early years. Using a holistic study design, video observations of interactions and experiences within and outside the Conceptual PlayWorld were gathered from two preschool teachers and 13 children aged 2.3–3.2 years. Findings support previous research regarding the accumulation of microaggressions in free-play settings that position girls away from STEM activity. These are minimised inside the Conceptual PlayWorld due to the changed role of the teacher. It is argued that the possibilities afforded by this model positively shift interactional patterns to create motivating conditions for girls in STEM, allowing both girls and boys the opportunity to have a strong engagement and interest in STEM from the very beginning.
While there has been much interest in the power of student-generated multiple representations to promote student reasoning and conceptual understanding, most studies of student explanations have been of written artefacts or only included diagrams as an adjunct to written explanations. This approach may be because teachers do not have an accessible framework with which to evaluate students’ diagrams as being explanations. Adapting de Andrade et al.’s Research in Science Education, 49, 787-807 (2019) evaluation framework for written explanations, this study explored the benefits and limitations of a framework to evaluate students’ explanatory diagrams. Seventeen grade 5 and 6 students produced a series of explanatory diagrams over six chemistry lessons on particle theory. Their diagrams were coded and evaluated using the proposed diagram analysis framework. Some sample diagrams are included to illustrate how the framework assisted the evaluation of students’ diagrams. The framework helped identify key features of students’ diagrams and evaluate their explanatory powers consistently and effectively. This research also indicates that a series of stand-alone diagrams can effectively be used by teachers to assess how students communicate their understanding of causal explanations in terms of sub-microscopic entities of the underlying phenomena.
Semantic gravity of discourse
Hypothetical semantic waves for individual students (Maton, 2013)
Group A’s science reports with lower semantic gravity at Observations and Inferences
Science reports with higher semantic gravity at Inferences section
Laboratorial experiments reported by student groups
Literacy practices in science classrooms have been traditionally limited to the provision of macroscaffolds (writing templates like Question-Hypothesis-Methodology-Results). This paper explores the allowances and shortcomings of such practice by means of a systematic examination of a corpus of lab reports written by two small groups of college students taught to write scientifically through a macroscaffold-based approach. Despite reporting the same experience and being supported by the same macroscaffold, students’ science writing differed in important ways. Group A’s impersonal inferences expressed social detachment and objectivity (students positioned themselves as distant and objective knowledge producers), whereas Group B adopted a position of social closeness and subjectivity more typical of personal genres (e.g., personal diaries). Atypical of what is expected of science writers, Group B’s personal inferences was taken as indicative of an alternative conception of what it meant to scientifically infer from one’s empirical observations. Such a different style pointed to the possibility of some students holding alternative conceptions about what it means to scientifically infer from one’s empirical observations. It is argued that, although macroscaffolding may be a helpful starting point, students need additional guidance on specific linguistic aspects of science writing, and possibly engage in genre-based literacy activities.
The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of persistence within STEM learning environments as a function of cumulative stress and latent trauma. The biopsychosocial impact of prolonged stressors due to hostile environments and academic demands has deleterious health effects on historically underrepresented students who enter STEM disciplines. The Trauma Symptoms Checklist for Children, clinical histories, and psychophysiomeasurement tools were used to measure the effects of cumulative stress and latent trauma as historically underrepresented students persisted through high school STEM discipline classes. Elevated responses on the inventory and history were triangulated through measures of biological markers for cumulative stress and developed into a profile combination of traits to identify those students likely to show symptomology consistent with the negative effects of cumulative stress and latent trauma. Examination of these outcomes using a latent class profile analysis model suggested the presence of cumulative stress resulting from program participation was significant.
The regression coefficients for the association between the reported frequency of a teacher explaining how a science idea can be applied with science achievement and a teacher explaining the relevance of science concepts to the lives of students with science achievement, mediated by the reported frequency of a teacher explaining scientific ideas. All teaching practices, student- and school-level demographics, and socio-economic factors were included in the analyses; but for clarity of presentation purposes, only the main measures of interest are shown. **p < 0.001
This study investigated the relationships of teacher-directed approaches with science achievement in Australian schools. The data for this study were drawn from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 database and analysed using multilevel modelling (MLM). MLMs were estimated to test the contribution of each item to students’ science achievement scores and to estimate the mediation effect of teacher explanations on these relationships. Only explicit, teacher-directed practices demonstrated a significant, positive association with science achievement. The positive, significant nature of the item ‘the teacher explains scientific ideas’ ( B = 29.61, p < 0.001) suggested that this practice should take place in all science lessons. In the mediation model, the explicit, teacher-directed approaches in the inquiry scale revealed a significant indirect effect on science achievement, through the process of the teacher explaining scientific ideas. This indicated that effective explanations also underpin other instructional approaches such as contextualised science learning. These findings, accompanied by an analysis of the teacher-directed items and their relationships to science outcomes, give teachers and policymakers clear guidance regarding the effective use of instructional explanations in the science classroom.
Welcome to the House of Science: Intersectionality in science education and practice
This paper contributes to a small but significant body of research addressing issues of prejudice in science education. It is written in the form of a critical incident analysis that uses the framework of intersectionality to examine deficit ideologies and biases inherent in science as a body of knowledge as well as science teacher education. If left unchecked, these prejudices can filter through into school science education, reinforcing the stereotypes of who can contribute to the field of science. The paper makes a call for science teacher educators to support teacher candidates as they move past an academic understanding of diversity in science education to examine their personal dispositions. Suggestions are made for approaches that can be adopted to facilitate the forms of deconstruction necessary for progress to be made in this area.
The purpose of the study was to examine science teachers’ emotions, emotion regulation goals and strategies during instruction, and the role of teaching experience, teacher efficacy beliefs, and teacher goal orientations in their emotions and emotion regulation using the control-value theory of emotions and the process model of emotion regulation. We employed a multiple-case holistic design with three in-service science teachers. Data were collected from teacher diaries, video recordings, fieldnotes from non-participant observations, and semi-structured interviews. For data analysis, the deductive method, content analysis, and the constant comparative method were employed. Results showed that the most frequently experienced emotions during the instruction were enjoyment and contentment as positive emotions and worry and anger as negative emotions. The teachers mostly used antecedent-focused emotion regulation strategies for hedonic reasons. The most frequently used emotion regulation strategy was situation selection, which was mostly employed for classroom management issues. In addition, findings indicated that the teachers differed in their emotions, emotion regulation goals, and emotion regulation strategies based on their years of teaching experience, self-efficacy beliefs, goal orientations, and pedagogical content knowledge. Results suggest the importance of teacher emotions in science education to nurture effective science pedagogies and to enrich science teaching.
Drawings produced by teachers. Sunlight is present in drawings a and c. In drawing b, none of the raw materials necessary for plant nutrition is represented (just the basic external anatomy has been drawn). c Nutrients are considered to be taken from the soil. d The teacher did not draw, just listing the elements
Drawings produced by children. Sunlight is represented in five of them. a Figure is very similar, in graphic terms and in the elements represented, to that of his/her teacher (see Fig. 1a). b Conventions for representation of gas exchange (arrows) have been used. c Air is represented, without reference to CO2 or to O2. d Nutrients are represented as being taken from the soil. e Gases are not represented nor mentioned. f O2 and “air” are labelled, but not CO2
The research compares teachers’ and their pupils’ performance on plant nutrition. The misconceptions of 89 primary school children from one state school have been compared with those of their four teachers. A questionnaire and a drawing task were used for data collection. The results evidence that children and teachers have serious shortcomings regarding plant nutrition, although they do not always coincide, diverging from common assumptions held by scientific literature. Results have implications for teacher training program design, suggesting that it is important to provide pre-service teachers with a deeper content knowledge and strategies that allow them to detect misconceptions and deal with them successfully in the classroom.
This research is a comparative study of Finnish and Australian science curricula in early childhood education (EC). The study aims to figure out the constructivist components of the science curriculum in two countries as well as locate the similarities and differences in the rationale and aims, contents, learning outcomes, learning activities, teacher’s role and assessment. The curriculum analysis framework developed by Van den Akker (2003) was used as a methodological framework for the curricula analysis. Based on the theory-driven content analyses, findings show that both countries have several components of constructivist curriculum, but not always clearly focused on science education. The Australian Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) integrates children’s science learning within their five specific learning outcomes, whereas the Finnish national core curriculum for early childhood education and care has no defined learning outcomes in general. The Finnish curriculum more clearly than EYLF encompasses science and environmental education as a learning domain, within which children participate in targeted scientific activities to gain procedural knowledge in specific environmental-related concepts. More focus should be turned to the teachers’ role and assessment, which are not determined in science context in both countries. This international comparative study calls for the need of a considered EC curriculum framework that more explicitly has science domains with specifically defined rationale, aims, content areas, learning outcomes and assessment criteria. The implications lie in providing early childhood educators with tangible and theoretically solid curriculum framework and resources in order to foster scientific thinking in young children.
The development of students’ argumentation competence is one of the major aims of science education and everyday problems, such as decisions on the consumption of tap water or bottled water, which may be suitable contexts to encourage it. Citizens consider of interest certain controversies associated with the bottled water consumption as an alternative to tap water, which has a significant effect on several aspects of their daily lives. Deciding whether or not to drink bottled water can be used as an interesting context for science teaching activities. To make appropriate decisions on this issue, students must know how to argue with scientific rigour. This paper presents an assessment of the degree of performance of 14/15-year-old students in scientific argumentation within this context. A specific rubric has been designed for each of the assessment activities used, and the Rasch model has been applied to analyse the degree of difficulty that each of the essential elements of an argument (evidence, justification, and conclusion) has for the students. Thus, evidence is generally shown to be the most difficult element of the argument for students followed by justifications and finally conclusions. The analysis procedure used can help to establish a sequence of argumentation activities within a particular context. Finally, the results obtained can be used in teaching to prepare the appropriate assistance according to the argumentation activity at hand.
Science Cafés create open, public forums to promote the exchange of ideas between science experts and the public. This study explored Science Café attendees’ interest in science content, and motivational factors in attending events as well as documenting what attendees did with the information presented at an event through the means of a survey (n = 124) and interviews (n = 17). The Synthesized Elements for Informal Learning Experiences at Science Cafés represents a merged perspective of informal learning environments, based on self-determination theory and the contextual model of learning. The synthesized elements (endogenous and ecological) may provide an explanation of the public’s motivation in attending Science Café events. Based on survey and interview data, the majority of participants reported endogenous elements (knowledge and learning; fulfills personal needs) as motivational factors to attend Science Café events. Additionally, attendees stated ecological elements, such as social interactions, with other attendees and science experts were significant motivational influences to attend events. Survey and interview respondents cited they share and discuss the information gained from a Science Café event with others in their social network (e.g., family members, friends, and colleagues). This information may inform best practices in connecting the community to science experts in order to share scientific endeavors and documenting the profound effect science has on the public.
Conceptual framework of the interaction effects
Cross-level interaction effect between disciplinary climate and PD requirement
Science classroom learning environment (CLE) and science teacher professional development (PD) are two important factors in students’ science learning. However, the nature of the science CLE and school-level PD that promotes students’ science achievement remains unclear. Using the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 data, this study aims to explore the multi-level relationships between student-reported CLE, school-level teacher PD, and the possible interaction effects between the two on students’ science achievement. Since sample students were nested within schools, two-level hierarchical linear models (HLM) were used to analyze the data. Results indicated that science CLE factors, including direct instruction, adaption of instruction, and disciplinary climate, had significantly positive relationships with students’ science achievement, while inquiry-based science teaching and learning practices and perceived feedback had significantly negative relationships with students’ science achievement. Moreover, these relationships varied significantly between schools. For school-level PD factors, the proportion of PD in school science and proportion of teachers attending PD within 12 months had significantly positive relationships with students’ average science achievement between schools. More importantly, a significant cross-level interaction effect was found between PD requirements and disciplinary climate. Implications for creating science CLEs to promote students’ science learning, including implementing science teacher PD through a school-level approach and modifying PD based on CLE contextual factors, are also provided.
Proportions of study participants’ SES status stratified by gender; open columns represent females, and shaded columns represent males. The aggregate for each series is 100%
Time course of students’ academic achievement stratified by gender and degree completion status. TDC females (lightly shaded columns), NTDC females (open columns), TDC males (intermediate shaded columns), and NTDC males (heavily shaded columns) are indicated. ** and *** denote a significant difference between mean ATARs at p < 0.01 and p < 0.001; **** denotes a significant difference between mean year WAMs at p < 0.0001. Individual cohort numbers for TDC and NTDC students are as per Table 1
Relative proportions of female and male students (per TDC and NTDC) for each SES decile. TDC females (lightly shaded columns), NTDC females (open columns), TDC males (intermediate shaded columns), and NTDC males (heavily shaded columns) are indicated. The number in brackets for SES decile indicates the total students for that decile
A conceptual model regarding timely BSc degree completion. * denotes p < 0.05 level of significance, all other levels of significance are as per Fig. 2
Science undergraduates’ timely degree completion (TDC) has become increasingly important for students themselves, universities, and society, due to issues such as cost, efficiency, and productivity, respectively. This study investigated the potential effect of several variables on TDC of Bachelor of Science (BSc) students at an Australian research-intensive university. Results showed that two time-dependent variables (TDVs)—gender and Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)—predicted TDC. Two time-independent variables (TIVs)—the number of discipline majors and specific year level academic achievement—also predicted TDC. Students who completed on time had a significantly higher mean weighted average mark (WAM) than non-TDC students, for each year of study, and more females than males completed their BSc in a timely manner. The primary determinants of TDC were gender, number of discipline majors, and WAM at each of years 2 and 3. Our conceptual model of TDC indicates the predictive interrelationships among these TIVs and TDVs. A more informed understanding of the study’s outcomes among university stakeholders has considerable potential to enhance the engagement, scaffolding, achievement, and TDC of science undergraduates.
There is a long tradition of teaching science through inquiry, with broad agreement about the form it should take. Students should investigate researchable questions; gather and analyse data; and develop and represent evidence-based claims. Authoritative teacher or textbook representations are generally used to guide this learning (Buckley & Boulter, 2000; Bybee, 1997; Furtak et al., 2012; Sell et al., 2006). Parallel to this approach, teachers have also guided students to construct, review and refine their own representations, leading to learning gains. However, this student representation construction approach poses new challenges for teachers. The teacher is expected to elicit and guide students’ reasoning about their own represented claims as an orientation to understanding and learning scientific forms of reasoning and their representation. In this paper, drawing on our initial account of this pedagogy, we aim to clarify further this approach’s rationale and teacher strategies and underlying purposes in key early stages of exploration in the topics of chemistry and mathematics with a Grade 5 class. An interdisciplinary focus was used to guide students’ learning about the science concepts of states of matter, evaporation and the mathematical concepts of formal and informal measurement and data representation. Analysed data included video capture of the teacher’s guidance of tasks and classroom discussion, student artefacts and teacher and student interviews. We identify how the teacher framed the task, oriented student inquiry and guided evaluation of students’ representations through implicit and explicit instruction.
Learning analytics, referring to the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of data about learners and their contexts in order to optimize learning and the environments in which it occurs, is proving to be a powerful approach for understanding and improving science learning. However, few studies focused on leveraging learning analytics to assess hands-on laboratory skills in K-12 science classrooms. This study demonstrated the feasibility of gauging laboratory skills based on students’ process data logged by a mobile augmented reality (AR) application for conducting science experiments. Students can use the mobile AR technology to investigate a variety of science phenomena that involve concepts central to physics understanding. Seventy-two students from a suburban middle school in the Northeastern United States participated in this study. They conducted experiments in pairs. Mining process data using Bayesian networks showed that most students who participated in this study demonstrated some degree of proficiency in laboratory skills. Also, findings indicated a positive correlation between laboratory skills and conceptual learning. The results suggested that learning analytics provides a possible solution to measure hands-on laboratory learning in real-time and at scale.
Heatmap plot of the items
Probability of mastering each skill for three students with the same total score
In this study, we developed machine learning algorithms to automatically score students' written arguments and then applied the cognitive diagnostic modeling (CDM) approach to examine students' cognitive patterns of scientific argumentation. We abstracted three types of skills (i.e., attributes) critical for successful argumentation practice: making claims, using evidence, and providing warrants. We developed 19 constructed response items, with each item requiring multiple cognitive skills. We collected responses from 932 students in Grades 5 to 8 and developed machine learning algorithmic models to automatically score their responses. We then applied CDM to analyze their cognitive patterns. Results indicate that machine scoring achieved the average machine-human agreements of Cohen's = 0.73, SD = 0.09. We found that students were clustered in 21 groups based on their argumentation performance, each revealing a different cognitive pattern. Within each group, students showed different abilities regarding making claims, using evidence, and providing warrants to justify how the evidence supports a claim. The 9 most frequent groups accounted for more than 70% of the students in the study. Our in-depth analysis of individual students suggests that students with the same total ability score might vary in the specific cognitive skills required to accomplish argumentation. This result illustrates the advantage of CDM in assessing the fine-grained cognition of students during argumentation practices in science and other scientific practices.
This study analyzes the potential of group-based negotiation processes based on changes in reasoning and argument weighting for a socioscientific issue (SSI) in biology classes. In the corresponding pre-and post-study, students were encouraged to reason and weight arguments about the conservation of local biodiversity before and after a group-based negotiation. For this purpose, the students employed a target-mat structuring tool for compensatory reasoning and weighting in both the individual pre-and post-phases and the group phase. To identify changes in reasoning after group-based negotiation, the use of argumentative resources, i.e., fact-based and normative resources, was assessed. When the students added confirming reasons for arguments, they were more likely to use fact-based resources. When refuting the initial reasoning, the students tended to add normative resources. Furthermore , individual changes in weightings and their relationship to the group weighting were calculated. This analysis revealed that the students changed their weightings toward the group weighting. The results are discussed in terms of the potential of negotiations to cause students to revise and rethink their reasoning and weighting in addressing SSIs and the particular potential of the target-mat instructional tool for structured decision-making.
A multimodal text in the genre of informational report (reproduced with permission from Greg Linstead, David Madden, Malcolm Parsons, Lana Salfinger, Maggie Spenceley, Christina Bliss, Louisa Lennard, Craig Tilley, Julie Williams, and Rebecca Wood, Pearson Science - Year 7: Student Book, 2nd edition, ©2017, Pearson Australia, pages 141 (text only). Figure 4.1.1 belongs to author’s original photograph)
A multimodal text in the genre of explanation (reproduced with permission from Greg Linstead, David Madden, Malcolm Parsons, Lana Salfinger, Maggie Spenceley, Christina Bliss, Louisa Lennard, Craig Tilley, Julie Williams, and Rebecca Wood, Pearson Science - Year 7: Student Book, 2nd edition, © 2017, Pearson Australia, pages 368 (text only). Figures 8.3.12 and 8.3.13 belong to author’s original diagram and photograph)
A multimodal text in the genre of experimental account (reproduced with permission from Greg Rickard et al. author, Pearson Science – Year 9: Student Book 2 ©2017, Pearson Australia, page 262, figure 6.4.17)
There is currently a lack of systematic study examining the integration of verbal-visual elements in science textbooks. In particular, few research has investigated how different types of visual representations (e.g. photograph, diagram, table) vary across the major written genres of science (e.g. information report, explanation). Based on the perspective of social semiotics, this paper aims to understand the co-dependency between visual representations and written genres by analysing a corpus of multimodal texts from a major Australian textbook series. Quantitative and qualitative analyses reveal a number of interesting patterns in terms of how several types of representations tend to appear with certain genres, as well as possible reasons for this co-dependency. In particular, the analysis accounts for why and how: (a) photographs and tables are used to support information report, (b) diagrams and photographs for explanation, and (c) diagrams and tables for experimental account. This study provides empirical evidence to support the importance of analysing multimodal genre for science teaching and learning as well as science education research.
The four clusters of science teachers, their average scores on the four constructs, and the percentage of number of teachers in our sample
This study is framed by Bandura’s social cognitive theory and Dewey’s idea of habits and investigates types of science teachers based on four constructs: (a) self-efficacy beliefs, (b) twenty-first-century learning attitudes, (c) the frequency of implementing inquiry-based instruction, and (d) the frequency of using technology in teaching. K-means clustering analysis was run on a sample of 837 US elementary and secondary science teachers. Multinomial logistic regression was then used to characterize each group using variables such as years of teaching experience, National Board Certification (NBC) status, gender, grade-level taught, school location, STEM career awareness, and leadership attitudes. We found four science teacher groups and named them the idealist, moderate, reform-minded, and generalist. Further analyses revealed that gender and geographic location did not significantly influence cluster membership. However, we found that clustering was significantly associated with NBC status, grade-level taught, years of teaching experience, STEM career awareness, and leadership attitudes. Notably, the reform-minded science teachers were more likely to hold an NBC status, teach secondary science, and have a high awareness of current STEM careers. Moreover, the generalist science teachers were those teaching elementary levels and without NBC status. These findings inform the design of tailored professional development programs targeting specific science-teacher characteristics.
The four probes used for think-aloud interviews
Conceptualisation shifts for the explanations of each phenomenon
Transformation of modes of representations in various scientific explanations and their functions in the meaning-making process
This study focuses on the relationship between students’ use of language resources and their conceptualisation of phenomena in producing scientific explanations in physics. The objectives are to find out if there is a general model that describe the meaning-making process, the extent that this model is applicable to various branches in physics. Successfully constructed explanations were collected through think-aloud interviews for four key topics in physics—dynamics, thermal physics, electromagnetic induction and superposition. Analysis shows that students’ construction of scientific explanations in physics involves different levels of conceptualisation (macroscopic, theoretical and relational) and representations (iconic depiction, early symbols and formalism) in general. There are specific representational characteristics that are related to the nature of the concepts involved. Results show the importance of understanding how and why specific representational systems are related to particular scientific concepts and to the physical world.
Primary school topics involving abstract concepts are challenging to teach. Electric circuits can be simply constructed but complex to explain. New approaches in teaching students for understanding are needed to advance practice in primary science. This paper combines the strengths of multimodality research perspectives with variation theory to provide insights into a teaching sequence designed for year 6 students. Application of a representation construction approach (RCA) provides opportunities for multimodal meaning-making of electric circuits. The case study adopted a design-based research method to investigate teaching electric circuits. Data collection involved video capture of classroom practice, teacher and student interviews, student journal entries and assessment artefacts, field notes, and pre-test and post-test results. Design principles included identifying key ideas, devising a lesson sequence emphasising energy transfer and transformation, hands-on exploration using multimodal representations in response to learning challenges, and student journaling. Students’ metarepresentational competence was also developed through evaluation, negotiation, and creation of representations and models of electric circuits. Representational challenges followed by strategic teacher-led discussion facilitated students’ developing understanding through focusing attention on critical features. Deep learning was evidenced by journal records, formative and summative assessment artefacts, and post-test responses. RCA principles were instrumental in the successful design of an effective teaching sequence through focus on critical aspects of energy. We advocate a RCA for the design of a multimodal learning sequence. Variation theory was a useful analytical framework to understand the enactment of the design sequence. The study contributes to the challenge of rethinking traditional teaching practices in primary science.
In science education, there is a now established focus on fostering students’ meaning making through/as multimodal representations as part of their induction into the epistemic practices of the discipline. Increasingly, this agenda is aligned with an emphasis on nurturing students’ creative reasoning, as researchers move to enrich theories of creativity with socio-cultural approaches. In this research, year 10 students interacted with three purpose-built multi-agent-based computational models (MABCM) to reason about key aspects of natural selection. I used the video coding software StudioCode to explore video footage (tripod-mounted cameras, web cameras, screencast recordings) of three pairs of students interacting in innovative and flexible ways with these multimodal simulations. I constructed and interpreted modified timelines of these reasoning episodes using Peirce’s (1895/1998) social semiotics as framed by Magnani’s eco-cognitive model (2001; 2009), which enabled a micro-ethnographic analysis of the multimodal nature of students’ creative reasoning. I propose that students interacted with these digital simulations to engage in a multimodal (manipulative, visual and sentential) and creative (new ideas and their critique) process of hypothesising through/as abduction. I argue that students’ creative reasoning as meaning making is powerfully interpreted through Peircean social semiotics as a fundamentally cross-modal process of (1) integrating and moving between various modes; (2) logically executing formal and informal processes of proposition generation; (3) distributing meaning making across various agents (human and non-human); and ongoing hypothesising. I thus seek to add a logic as semiotic dimension to more linguistic accounts of multimodality and creativity in the science classroom.
Differences between scattering, absorption and transmission
Stacy’s planning sheet
Screenshot from Alberta Distance Learning Centre (used with permission)
The construction of dynamic multimedia products requires the selection and integration of a range of semiotic resources. As an assessment task for preservice teachers, this construction process is complex but has significant potential for learning. To investigate how weaving together multiple representations in such tasks enables learners to develop conceptual understanding, the paper presents an indicative case study of a 2nd-year preservice primary (K-6) teacher who created a digital explanation on the topic of ‘transparency’ for stage 3 children (ages 11–12). We focus on data gathered during the 3-h construction process including artefacts such as images, online searches, websites accessed and paper records used for planning; the digital explanation as product; audio and video capture of the construction process and pre- and post-construction interviews. Using multimodal analysis, we examine these data to understand how meanings are negotiated as the maker moves iteratively among multiple representations and through semiotic choices within these representations to explain the science concept. The analyses illustrate the complexity of the construction process while providing insight into the creator’s decision-making and to her developing semiotic and conceptual understandings. These findings allow us to build on the concept of cumulative semiotic progression (Hoban & Nielsen, Research in Science Education, 35, 1101-1119, 2013) by explicating the role of iterative reasoning in the production of pedagogic multimedia.
This classroom-based study aims to contribute knowledge about children’s opportunities to make use of drawing to make meaning in science. Employing a social semiotic approach to drawing, we examine what ways of representing science content that are (1) made available by the teacher and (2) adopted in children’s drawings. We analysed observation data from 11 science lessons in early childhood classrooms (children aged 3 to 8 years), including the drawings that children made during those lessons (129 drawings in total). Our findings suggest that the semiotic resources that teachers provide have a large impact on how children represent science content in their drawings. Moreover, we interpret that teachers strive to support children’s ‘emergent disciplinary drawing’ in science, since they predominantly provided semiotic resources where the science content was generalised and decontextualised. Finally, we propose that ‘emergent disciplinary drawing’ is incorporated as an element of science pedagogy in ECE practice and ECE teacher education.
In English-medium instruction (EMI), English-as-a-second-language students will learn all/some subjects through English. Although there are a considerable number of studies which explore classroom interaction in Hong Kong (HK) secondary EMI schools, few studies have investigated EMI lessons which involve South Asian ethnic minorised students. These students share different linguistic and cultural backgrounds and they may not share a common first language with the teacher and other classmates. This study conducts a multimodal conversation analysis of science and mathematics lessons at a HK EMI secondary school, triangulated with interview data, in order to explore how the EMI teacher mobilises various resources to make discipline-specific knowledge accessible and cater for the different needs of all students in the classroom. This study argues that the process of enacting inclusive practices is a process of translanguaging which requires the EMI teacher to mobilise various available multilingual and semiotic resources and draw on what students know collectively for transcending cultural boundaries from the students’ everyday culture to cultures of school science and mathematics.
Theoretical model of creative inquiry based on Vygotskian concepts
Multimodal creative inquiry approach using semiotic resources for science meaning-making
This paper discusses how multimodal creative inquiry might be conceptualised and implemented for children's meaning-making in science. We consider Halliday's (1978) and Vygotsky's (1987, 2016) theoretical ideas for showing how the most important characteristics of social semiotics are connected to imagination, play-based and creative inquiry for children's science meaning-making. Qualitative data was analysed from two preschool classroom video observations of 40 children's playful interactions with technologies, such as robotic toys, semiotic artefacts, two teachers' reflective journal documentation and children's artefacts. Findings show children participate and discuss elements of scientific concepts in inquiry-based dialogues and make sense of science concepts whilst becoming creators of multimodal representations arising from their interests and curiosity. The semi-otic resources that operate through technologies such as apps provide a medium for creative inquiry affording communication spaces and multimodal (visual, haptic [digital touch], text) meaning-making around everyday science phenomena. Practical implications lie in upskilling educators' integration of semiotic resources such as robotic toys and deploying a multimodal creative inquiry approach for reconfiguring children's science learning opportunities in early childhood educational practices.
Many researchers have reported that bridging analogies can productively support students’ scientific meaning-making. How this can be understood semiotically is, however, not well understood. This research followed an ethnographic case study approach to investigate Year 11 students meaning-making through a process of transduction (Kress, 2000; Volkwyn, 2020) across the submicroscopic and symbolic domains of Johnstone’s (1991) chemistry triangle. A “cross-and-portion” (CPO) model was devised as a bridging representation for learning the molar concentration and dilution concepts, informed by Peirce’s triadic model (1931) which relates the meaning of a concept to its representation in a sign, and its referent. The study drew on video capture of the classroom and small group activity, and interviews. The research findings indicated that the CPO model acted as a visualisation tool that facilitated students to link from the submicroscopic to symbolic domains of Johnstone’s triangle. A recursive model of meaning-making was formulated to describe how bridging representations are re-purposed to occupy shifting positions in Peirce’s triad to enable meaning through the system of interpretance. Students constructed, critiqued and transducted across multiple, multimodal representations to achieve discursive fluency across the dimensions of Johnstone’s triangle. The recursive model provides a fresh perspective on how students coordinate multimodal representations to learn science/chemistry.
Multimodal student text in ecology with translation from Swedish (for colour image, see online version)
Multimodal teaching resource in chemistry (Nationalencyklopedin (n.d.) (with translation from Swedish). Original image is available in Appendix 2, copyright Jens Klevje/NE. Reprinted with permission from: Olof Ollerstam/NE (for colour image, see online version)
Teaching and learning in science disciplines are dependent on multimodal communication. Earlier research implies that students may be challenged when trying to interpret and use different semiotic resources. There have been calls for extensive frameworks that enable analysis of multimodal texts in science education. In this study, we combine analytical tools deriving from social semiotics, including systemic functional linguistics (SFL), where the ideational, interpersonal, and textual metafunctions are central. In regard to other modes than writing — and to analyse how textual resources are combined — we build on aspects highlighted in research on multimodality. The aim of this study is to uncover how such a framework can provide researchers and teachers with insights into the ways in which various aspects of the content in multimodal texts are communicated through different semiotic resources. Furthermore, we aim to explore how different text resources interact and, finally, how the students, or authors of teaching resources, position themselves in relation to the subject. Data consist of one student text and one teaching resource text, both comprising drawn and written elements in combination with symbols. Our analyses of the student text suggest that the proposed framework can provide insights into students’ content knowledge and, hence, how construction of multimodal texts may be a useful tool for formative assessment. When it comes to teaching resources, the framework may be a useful tool for teachers when choosing resources, particularly in relation to students’ possibilities of meaning making when engaging with such texts, but also, as a basis for classroom discussions.
“It’s pointing right at it”—exploring the relation between tilt and angle to the sun in summer (a) and then in winter (b) “it can’t see it as well”
The moment of insight produced by the 3D globe and torch model
Unfocussed drawing of the earth and continents without regard to spatial relations
There is growing interest in the construct of “transduction”, first introduced by (Kress, Cope and Kalantzis (eds), Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures pp.153 – 161, Routledge, 2000), p. 159) to name how meanings in one mode are remade in another. Science educators now broadly agree that students need to learn how to interpret, make, co-ordinate and integrate meanings in multimodal representations of scientific claims. The question of how exactly this transductive capability is enabled, constrained or theorised is receiving renewed attention. In this paper, following a pragmatist socio-cultural perspective, we propose that transduction in science entails creative reasoning enabled by both cognitive and semiotic resources. We claim that that this process entails students achieving both complementarity as well as coherence or consistency of meanings across modes, but is not reducible to mono-modal “translation” of a singular meaning. Because different modes do different work in meaning-making in science, we claim instead that transduction is the process of seeking and recognising both reiteration and complementarity of linguistic and non-linguistic meanings that constitute the nature of concepts and processes in science. While this “content” can be re-represented in verbal shorthand, science meaning-making and discourse are not reducible to this mode. We draw on relevant literature and two indicative examples of student representation construction to support our case. We focus on how students attend to correspondence and coherence requirements to transduce meanings across modes. In our micro-ethnographic analyses of students’ collaborative reasoning on the topic of astronomy, we interpret data from multiple video and audio capture. Students use 3D models, 2D representations, gesture and talk as semiotic resources to reason about scientific concepts.
Late interphase diagram
Micrograph of a pair of centrioles
Diagram of centrioles in the centrosome
Students’ difficulties interpreting diagrams remain a concern in science education. Research about improving diagram comprehension has included few studies of teachers’ orchestration of language and gesture in explaining diagrams—and very few in senior high schools. Research with younger students and studies of research scientists’ practice indicate the significance of the interaction of teachers’ gesture and language in explaining visualisations. The strategic deployment of such teacher-focussed authoritative explanations has been observed in facilitating progression to more complex and symbolic representations in classroom work. However, the paucity of such research in senior high school leaves open the question of how these teachers use gesture and language in managing the challenges of explaining the intricate sub-microscopic and abstract visualisations senior high school students need to negotiate. In this paper, we outline existing studies of teachers’ use of gesture and language to explain complex images in senior high school and investigate how it is managed by two biology teachers with images of different types and complexity representing the activity of certain cell components in the early phase of cell duplication. Implications are drawn for foci of further research including the role of a metalanguage describing different types of visualisations and their affordances.
This paper argues that meaning-making with multimodal representations in science learning is always contextualized within a genre and, conversely, what constitutes an ongoing genre also depends on a multimodal coordination of speech, gesture, diagrams, symbols, and material objects. In social semiotics, a genre is a culturally evolved way of doing things with language (including non-verbal representations). Genre provides a useful lens to understand how a community’s cultural norms and practices shape the use of language in various human activities. Despite this understanding, researchers have seldom considered the role of scientific genres (e.g., experimental account, information report, explanation) to understand how students in science classrooms make meanings as they use and construct multimodal representations. This study is based on an enactment of a drawing-to-learn approach in a primary school classroom in Australia, with data generated from classroom videos and students’ artifacts. Using multimodal discourse analysis informed by social semiotics, we analyze how the semantic variations in students’ representations correspond to the recurring genres they were enacting. We found a general pattern in the use and creation of representations across different scientific genres that support the theory of a mutual contextualization between genre and representation construction.
Current initiatives to transform undergraduate STEM education in the United States advocate for the use of multidimensional learning, wherein instruction provides opportunities for students to gain competency with fundamental or cross-disciplinary concepts and practices. To achieve this goal, the discipline-based education research (DBER) community is drawing on theories and approaches from the cognitive sciences to better understand how instructional choices may influence student cognition and performance. In this study, we investigate the extent to which adding visual representation to exam questions may alter the cognitive demand placed on the learner, thereby affecting exam performance. Exam questions were crafted in pairs – one form embedded some necessary information within a visual representation, while the other comprised only text – and distributed on exams across an undergraduate molecular life sciences curriculum. Comparison of analogous questions indicates that visual representation does affect performance on most questions; however, the nature of that effect depends on other features (e.g., format, cognitive level) of the task. Adding a visual representation to difficult open-response questions often decreased performance further, while adding a representation to similarly difficult forced-response items was more likely to increase performance. Drawing on cognitive theories of learning, we rationalize how the presence and interactivity of these elements may affect the cognitive load of the task and working memory efficiency. The findings of this study have implications for instructors regarding the design and interpretation of student assessments and call on researchers for deeper investigation of the relationship between student cognition and multidimensional assessments.
Wright map for the distributions of item difficulty and person ability. Note. Each # represents 4 students, and each dot represents 1–3 students. E1, level 1 of context extracting; E2, level 2 of context extracting; E3, level 3 of context extracting; I1, level 1 of context integrating; I2, level 2 of context integrating; I3, level 3 of context Integrating; R1, level 1 of context reasoning; R2, level 2 of context reasoning; R3, level 3 of context reasoning; A1, level 1 of context argumentation; A2, level 2 of context argumentation; A3, level 3 of context argumentation
Percentages of students at each level of four skill components
Student performance patterns across four components
This study aims to evaluate students’ ability to process the context information embedded in chemistry problems. To achieve this goal, a diagnostic measurement instrument was developed, comprising 28 short-answer items embedded in seven context-based chemistry tasks. Four hundred and ninety-three ninth-graders took part in the testing in Jiangsu, China. The partial credit Rasch model was applied to establish evidence of validity and reliability of the measurement instrument. Results showed that this instrument could produce reliable and valid measures of students’ context-based chemistry problem-solving skills. Nearly half of the ninth-grade students had a high level of context extracting skills and a moderate level of context integrating skills. However, most ninth-graders only had a low level of context reasoning or argumentation skills. In addition, most students had unbalanced skill levels, and their skill levels decreased or equaled as the complexity of skill components increased. This study provides insights into the extent of students’ skills of dealing with context information in chemistry problems by developing a reliable and valid measurement instrument. The findings of this study might inform chemistry teachers to improve their teaching practices, call attention to test developers in taking much care of designing the context, and enable further studies to relate context-based problem-solving skills to chemistry concept learning and application.
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