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Dialogic/Authoritative Discourse and Modelling in a High School Teaching Sequence on Optics

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Dialogic/Authoritative Discourse and Modelling in a High School Teaching Sequence on Optics

Abstract

In this paper we aim at establishing a link between two theoretical frames: modelling and its use in the design and analysis of scientific teaching sequences, and the communicative approaches as they alternate in classroom activities. In this case study, we follow the interactions between the teacher and a pair of students during an entire teaching sequence in Optics (grade 11). We focus on the way the teacher managed the dialogicity and the modelling processes in the classroom discourse. A qualitative analysis shows some difficulties in such an achievement, and their consequences on students' meaning making.
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DIALOGIC/AUTHORITATIVE DISCOURSE AND MODELLING
IN A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHING SEQUENCE ON OPTICS
Journal:
International Journal of Science Education
Manuscript ID:
TSED-2006-0328.R1
Manuscript Type:
Research Paper
Keywords:
qualitative research, model-based learning, physics education,
discourse, high school
Keywords (user):
URL: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/tsed Email: editor_ijse@hotmail.co.uk
International Journal of Science Education
peer-00513346, version 1 - 1 Sep 2010
Author manuscript, published in "International Journal of Science Education 30, 12 (2008) 1635-1660"
DOI : 10.1080/09500690701466280
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DIALOGIC/AUTHORITATIVE DISCOURSE AND MODELLING IN A HIGH
SCHOOL TEACHING SEQUENCE ON OPTICS
Abstract
In this paper we aim at establishing a link between two theoretical frames: modelling and its
use in the design and analysis of scientific teaching sequences, and the communicative
approaches as they alternate in classroom activities. In this case study, we follow the
interactions between the teacher and a pair of students during an entire teaching sequence in
Optics (grade 11). We focus on the way the teacher managed the dialogicity and the
modelling processes in the classroom discourse. A qualitative analysis shows some
difficulties in such an achievement, and their consequences on students’ meaning making.
Introduction
Recent years have seen a gradual development of interest in studies of how meanings are
developed through language and other modes of communication in science classrooms (for
example, Lemke 1990; Sutton, 1992; Ogborn, Kress, Martins & McGillicuddy 1996;
Roychoudhury & Roth 1996; Mortimer, 1998; Scott, 1998; Candela, 1999; Kress, Jewitt,
Ogborn & Tsatsarelis 2001; Kelly & Brown 2003; Mortimer & Scott 2003).
Another recent trend in science education research is the increasing prominence of studies of
modelling processes (for example Grosslight, Unger, Jay & Smith 1991; Tiberghien, 1994;
Devi, Tiberghien, Baker & Brna 1996; Gilbert & Boulter, 1998; Gobert & Buckley, 2000;
Treagust, Chittleborough & Mamiala 2002; Besson & Viennot, 2004) and the development of
this for teachers’ professional development (Justi & Gilbert, 2002; Crawford & Cullin, 2004).
In this paper we bring together these two areas of research by addressing some questions
concerning the ways in which dialogic discourse might help students to understand modelling
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processes. We are also interested in investigating whether teaching activities explicitly based
on modelling processes favour the emergence of dialogic discourse in the classrooms. In
analyzing some episodes from a teaching sequence on Optics for 16/17 year-old French
students (grade 11), we draw on some aspects of the analytical framework proposed by
Mortimer and Scott (2003) and also on the conception of modelling proposed by Buty,
Tiberghien and Le Maréchal (2004).
Theoretical Background
In this section, we will present the main features of the two theoretical frames we are going to
use, on modelling and on discursive interactions.
Modelling processes
Epistemological point of view
From an epistemological point of view, science is a cognitive activity focused on thinking
about a given domain of the physical world, with the aim of explaining it, and predicting the
possibility of events and the consequences of actions we might carry out in this world. For
these purposes, it is necessary to establish models. ‘Like other metascientific concepts, the
notion of model defies formal definition. One might say, perhaps, that a theoretical model is
an abstract system used to represent a real system, both descriptively and dynamically’
(Ziman, 2001: 147). Ziman argues that models are never constructed from direct perceptions,
but from pre-existing theories, which orient our perceptions by providing the theoretical ‘lens’
that makes the perceived world meaningful. When constructing the “abstract system”, some
elements of the “real system” are forgotten, and some are modified or described according to
the theory which is chosen to elaborate the model.
Using models is a continuous activity of scientists. This is an aspect of science which can be
considered as solved within the frame of ‘normal science’, and scientists, in the course of their
professional activity, feel ‘an characteristic unconcern’ (Kuhn, 1970: 47) for analyses of this
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kind. It has not always been the case. Looking backwards in the history of science, we can
observe that one of the basic distinctions Science made from the birth of modern science
what Kant called the Copernican revolution – was that between the subject matter and the
object of study. Galileo, for example, was not able to study a ‘real’ pendulum. He had to
detach his pendulum from the real world in order to make it an object of study. Science
cannot study the real world as it is; it has to simplify it in order to be able to model it. It has to
separate the object or phenomenon of interest from all the complexities that cannot be handled
within a theoretical framework.
We can observe too that scientists do reflect on the epistemological status of models each time
a revolution in science occurs (‘when the normal-scientific tradition change[s]’, Kuhn, 1970:
112), because a revolution generally leads to a new way of seeing the world. A major change
of this sort happened, for example, when Newton proposed a new way of seeing the world in
which all the objects on Earth behave in the same way as the planets and stars in the universe.
Educational point of view
Very often, science teachers do not appear to see the necessity of making explicit the
distinction between the “abstract system” (the model) and the “real system”, during science
instruction. They neither spend a lot of time to describe the way the model has been
established, under the control of a given theory.
On the contrary we, as researchers in science education, consider that an explicit
epistemological discourse is of great interest for students’ understanding, for several reasons.
The new way of seeing the reality to which students are being introduced and the learning
demands it represents (Leach & Scott, 2002) generally means a quite large change in their
way of thinking. We are not implying that learning science represents the same kind of
challenge as a scientific revolution; but we might assume that the demands imposed upon the
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students would be lowered if we made clear to them the change that the new way of thinking
represents.
We cannot take into consideration all aspects of the real world when elaborating a
scientific model; it is important for the students to realise this from the start. This distinction
also helps students to become more and more autonomous as they get used to referring to it in
the daily classrooms activities.
We also consider it necessary to make explicit the distinction between theories and models, by
indicating the role of the theory in the elaboration of models.
In the remainder if this article, following Tiberghien (1994), by ‘world of objects and events’
we mean any element of knowledge which refers to the material world. By ‘world of theories
and models’ we mean the whole set of statements, more or less structured and explicit, which
are available for understanding a wide range of situations, and constitute explanatory systems.
These notions can be applied both in the context of everyday life and in the context of science
instruction. Of course, the nature of theory in one case and in the other is deeply different (see
the discussion in Vosniadou, 1994: 47), but in both cases the word ‘theory’ is justified by an
explicative power and a general validity.
We consider that it is necessary, during instruction, to introduce a clear distinction between
the world of objects and events and the world of models and theories, and to acknowledge that
the relations between these two worlds are not the same when we speak from an everyday as
opposed to a scientific point of view. In this way, we help students to make sense of a ‘world’
that sometimes is at odd with their commonsense view on the matter being considered.
Meaning making in science classroom
The problem of representations: semiotic registers
Another related, but distinct, point is the necessity to take into account the issue of
representations in analysing classroom discourse and practice; it stems from the consideration
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that science discourse is multimodal (Lemke, 2002). Works on the area of multimodality
tends to be ‘oriented to the detailed description of speech, writing, gesture and action, and the
visual, and the description of their interaction in communicational ensembles and their use’
(Kress et al., 2001) in science classrooms. Duval (1995: 21) specifies some kind of semiotic
systems, which he calls semiotic registers, and which have three cognitive features: they can
constitute a perceptible trace of something which can be identified as a representation; they
are provided with rules allowing to transform some representations into others, so that the
new ones carry additional knowledge compared with the former ones; they can be converted
in representations into another register, so that this conversion allows to express new
meanings about what is represented. The main semiotic registers used in science classes are
natural language, mathematical symbolism, graphs, and diagrams.
Characterizing dialogic and authoritative discourse
In this paper we shall use the analytical framework developed by Mortimer & Scott (2003) to
characterize classroom discourse. The framework is based on five linked aspects, which focus
on the role of the teacher, and are grouped in terms of Teaching Focus, Approach and Action:
teaching purposes, content, communicative approach, teacher interventions and patterns of
interactions (figure 1). For the purposes of the analysis presented here we shall focus our
attention on the Communicative Approach.
Insert figure 1 about here
The concept of Communicative Approach provides a perspective on how the teacher works
with students to develop ideas in the classroom. According to the authors, when a teacher
works with students to develop ideas and understanding in the classroom, their approach can
be characterized along a dimension, which extends between two extreme positions: either the
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teacher hears what the student has to say from the student’s point of view, or the teacher hears
what the student has to say only from the school science point of view.
We shall refer to the first position as a dialogic communicative approach, where
attention is paid to more than one point of view, more than one voice is heard, and
there is an exploration or ‘interanimation’ (Bakhtin, 1934/1981) of ideas (…) We
shall refer to the second as an authoritative communicative approach, where
attention is focused on just one point of view, only one voice is heard and there is
no exploration of different ideas (Mortimer & Scott, 2003: 33-34).
According to Mortimer & Scott (2003) an important feature of the distinction between
dialogic and authoritative approaches is that a sequence of talk can be dialogic or authoritative
in nature, independent of whether it is uttered individually or between people. What makes
talk functionally dialogic is the fact that different ideas are acknowledged, rather than whether
it is produced by a group of people or by a single individual. This point leads the authors to
present the second dimension to consider when thinking about the Communicative Approach:
that the talk can be interactive in the sense of involving the participation of more than one
person in the discourse, or non-interactive in the sense of involving the participation of only
one person.
As in this article the four episodes to be analysed are interactive, we shall restrain our analysis
to the dialogic/authoritative dimension. Although these aspects were developed in relation to
the teacher’s role and actions, they can also be used to characterise student-student
interactions in the classroom.
In analysing the communicative approach we must be aware of the reserve made by Scott,
Mortimer and Aguiar (2006: 627) that “we cannot classify a single utterance as being dialogic
or authoritative. This is a criterion that applies to a number of utterances that constitute an
episode of meaning making.” This is a consequence of the Bakhtinian principle that any
utterance is a link in the chain of speech communication.
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An important point in identifying the communicative approaches is that their emergence in
science classroom is closely linked to the use of different social languages (at least everyday
and school science social languages) and speech genres in the instructional practices, a point
we shall develop on the next topic.
Speech genres, social languages and secondarisation attitude
Bakhtin assumes that language is never unitary. ‘It is unitary only as an abstract grammatical
system of normative forms, taken in isolation from concrete, ideological conceptualisations
that fill it, and in isolation from the uninterrupted process of historical becoming that is a
characteristic of all living languages’ (Bakhtin, 1934/1981, p. 288). To model this
heterogeneity, Bakhtin proposes two forms of stratification of language: the notions of social
language and of speech genre.
A social language is ‘a discourse peculiar to a specific stratum of society (professional, age
group, etc.) within a given social system at a given time’ (Bakhtin, 1934/1981, p. 430). All
social languages are ‘specific points of view on the world, forms for conceptualising the
worlds in words, specific world views, each characterized by its own objects, meanings and
values (…) As such they encounter one another and co-exist in the consciousness of real
people’ (Bakhtin, 1934/1981, p. 291-292). In Bakhtin’s view, a speaker always produces an
utterance using a specific social language that shapes what he/she can say.
On the other hand, ‘a speech genre is not a form of language, but a typical form of utterance;
as such the genre also includes a certain typical kind of expression that inheres in it (…)
Genres correspond to typical situations of speech communication, typical themes, and,
consequently, also to particular contacts between the meanings of words and the actual
concrete reality under certain typical circumstances’ (Bakhtin, 1953/1986, p. 87).
Thus, whilst a social language is related to a specific point of view determined by a social or
professional position, the speech genre is related to the social and institutional place where the
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discourse is produced. So, in orchestrating the ways talk is produced in classrooms, teachers
will resort to at least two different social languages – everyday life and school science social
languages – and to a variety of speech genres, which includes narratives, descriptions,
explanations, different patterns of interaction, etc.
Bakhtin also distinguishes ‘primary genres’ (‘simple’ ones), which ‘have taken form in
unmediated speech communication … have an immediate relation to actual reality and to the
real utterances of the others’ (op.cit., 62); and ‘second genres’ (‘complex’ ones), ‘novels,
drama, all kinds of scientific research, major genres of commentary… [which] arise in more
complex and comparatively highly developed and organized cultural communication
(primarily written) that is artistic, scientific, socio-political, and so on’ (op.cit., 62). Bautier
and Goigoux (2004) have extended these categories. They define the ‘secondarisation
attitude’ as a response from the student to the demand of ‘constituting the world of academic
objects as a world of objects to be investigated, on which s/he can (and must) perform specific
thought activities and work’. In adopting this attitude the student become able to ‘establish a
circulation of knowledge and activities from one moment and from one academic object to
others’, what can result in the understanding that ‘a problem to solve looks like others which
have already been solved’ (Bautier & Goigoux, 2004: 91, our translation). They claim that
most of the students focus ‘on the ordinary, everyday meaning of tasks, objects or words
[which] seems to prevent them constructing the second academic dimension of these objects’
(ibid.).
Comments on the links between these theoretical elements
We have explained four theoretical elements: a view of modelling processes in science and of
their explanation in science instruction; the interplay between semiotic registers; a
characterisation of communicative approaches in classroom; social languages and speech
genres. This section is devoted to the articulation between these elements.
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The common core of these elements is the working hypothesis that understanding comes from
relationships between several descriptions or points of views, and consequently that the
process of understanding can be facilitated by making these relationships explicit.
In general terms, Mortimer and Scott assume that dialogic discourse is open to different
perspectives. Although the authors have used the dialogic-authoritative dimension to
characterize whether or not the teacher attends to the students’ points of view as well as to the
school science view, we use this dimension to consider the dialogic potential of modelling
activities: situations in which the teacher pays attention to more than one point of view, even
when these different points of view were not taken from the students suggestions or ideas. In
talking about a material situation in terms of both the world of objects and events and the
world of theories and models a teacher offers an opportunity to the students to see things from
different angles, which has a potential to bring different points of view to the understanding
process. As Voloshinov (1929/1973: 102) says, any deep understanding, or meaning making,
is dialogic in nature because one lays down a set of one’s own answering words for each word
of the utterance one is in process of understanding. More a teacher makes different points of
view available in the classroom, higher is the possibility for the students to lay down different
answering words, each one related to a different point of view. In this way, explicit modelling
process has a potential to increase dialogicality and understanding in classrooms.
Representational issues (the distinction between several semiotic registers and the conversion
from one register to another) must not be confused with epistemological issues (the
distinction between the two worlds): although perceptible, a schema on a textbook is not an
object, and an animation on a computer screen is not an event. Nevertheless, these
representations are connected to the two worlds because they are ways to represent, to work
on and to make public and subject to discussion, some elements of knowledge belonging
either to the world of objects and events or to the world of theories and models. Our main
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concern when speaking about semiotic register in this paper is related to the potential of
establishing relationships between different points of view that the changes between semiotic
registers bring about.
In considering the potential that modelling and the use of different semiotic registers has to
favour the emergence of dialogic discourse we offer a way of expanding the dialogic-
authoritative dimension of classroom discourse proposed by Mortimer and Scott (2003).
Nevertheless, we are not suggesting that dialogic discourse emerges every time someone
makes explicit links between the world of theories and models and the world of objects and
events. For example, if the teacher establishes these links from the point of view of school
science the discourse probably will be located in the authoritative dimension. We suggest that,
when seeing things from different modelling points of view or using different semiotic
registers to represent a phenomenon, students enlarge their view on the phenomenon, which
potentially increases the number of answering words the students lay down in trying to
understand the situation.
For the analysis of classroom discourse alongside the dialogic-authoritative dimension we are
interested in this paper, the distinction between primary and secondary speech genres and the
emergence of secondarisation attitudes are fundamental aspects to pay attention in the
discourse. The use of primary genres is closely linked to the use of the social language of
everyday life and the use of secondary genre will emerge as a consequence of the
“translations” between the semiotic register of natural language and other more specialized
semiotic registers – diagrams, graphics and equations, used in science. These translations also
have the potential to favour the emergence of different points of view, which characterize
dialogic discourse.
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Research questions
These theoretical considerations allow putting forward the following general hypothesis,
which could be a part of a global research program: dialogic discourse may help students to
establish the relationship between the world of objects and events and the world of theories
and models, which is a central feature of understanding modelling processes. In this
perspective, it is relevant to investigate if the teacher presents different points of view, which
is at the core of dialogic discourse: does s/he talk about the two worlds from the physics point
of view on the one hand and from the everyday-life point of view in the other hand? In this
articulation of two points of view, does s/he use and relate different social languages, different
speech genres and different semiotic registers?
This hypothesis can be considered here as a working one, which cannot be (dis)confirmed by
the data of a specific paper, but emerges as a consequence of articulating the two theoretical
perspectives – modelling and dialogism.
In this paper, we begin to address these questions in a case study, by a qualitative analysis of
classroom discourse, involving several episodes in different sessions of a complete teaching
sequence. Thus, the data come from a single class, with a single teacher. By the qualitative
analysis which follows, we do not pretend anything more than performing a first test of the
fruitfulness of combining these two frameworks – modelling and communicative approach –
for classroom discourse analysis.
In this context, we are interested in answering the following much more specific questions:
How did the teacher manage the dialogicity and the modelling processes in the classroom
discourse?
What were the difficulties he encountered in linking the various points of view, relatively to
modelling processes or to semiotic registers?
What were the consequences of these difficulties for students’ understanding?
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Content and features of the teaching sequence, methods and samples
For many years, the previously exposed considerations on modelling have informed the way
teaching sequences have been designed in a collaborative work with teachers (Tiberghien,
2000; Gaidioz, Vince & Tiberghien 2004). The teaching sequence in Optics (grade 11) which
will be discussed in this article has been elaborated in the same way. It is grounded on the
following learning hypotheses:
In class activities, and particularly in practical sessions, students have to
establish links between the theories/models they are supposed to learn and the
experiments they are asked to carry out.
The main difficulty they face to understand and learn science is to understand
the world of theories and models and to establish the links between this world
and the world of objects and events. It other words, a deep understanding of
concepts and of the relations between concepts depends not only on the
learning of models and theories but also on the construction by students of
meaningful links between the two worlds.
Students are likely to use their own previous ‘theory’ (normally implicit and
constructed from everyday experience or previous teaching) for this purpose
instead of the science theory they do not know yet or do not understand
completely. For example, such a naïve theory can incorporate statements like
“in order to set an object into motion I need to push or pull it” which, although
wrong from a scientific point of view, may be considered by students as
explicative in a given situation.
In line with the official curriculum, the teaching sequence on Optics, which has been
elaborated, included the following topics: the rectilinear propagation of light, the image
formation through a converging lens (real and virtual image), and the image through a plane
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mirror. The whole teaching sequence is divided into fifteen activities. An activity is ‘a
relatively self-contained, goal-oriented unit of activity, which is recognized as such by the
participants’ (Wells, 1999: 172) and includes a coherent set of tasks students should do
(experiments, drawings, exercises, answers to questions) and of actions and verbalizations
from the teacher.
Some choices have been done about the use of some words in the texts given to students
coherently with our concern about modelling processes. The word ‘ray’ was reserved for an
element of the model, like the word ‘beam’ which indicates an infinite set of rays. The
phenomena these words model are referred to by the expression ‘light flux’. This choice can
be considered as a consequence of the hypothesis about the necessity of making explicit the
modelling processes.
Nevertheless we are conscious that some words are unavoidably bivalent, and will be used by
students (and often also by teachers) to refer to the world of objects and events or to the world
of theory and models indifferently. This bivalence probably also helps students to understand
the relationship between the two worlds, because it may initiate the link between them.
The teaching sequence alternated lessons for the whole class (9 hours) and experimental
sessions (three of 2 hours each) with half of the class. Every episode analyzed here was part
of an experimental session. In the experimental sessions, the students worked in pairs. The
whole sequence was video recorded using two cameras. One of the cameras was placed on the
back of the room with a wide angle centred on the teacher, and the other focused on a pair of
male students, Mat and Ale, in a close-up. The video recordings were transcribed; the
transcripts include all the verbal productions that were understandable and a description of the
gestures that were considered as meaningful by the researchers. In doing the analysis we
resorted both to the videos and to the transcripts.
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A rather important point is that the observed teacher had participated in elaborating the
teaching sequence; he was consequently aware of the epistemological issues underlining the
design of the various activities, especially the positive effects expected from a clear separation
between the two worlds. But no indication had been given about communicative approaches,
and he himself chose his patterns of talk. To this regard, he was a “normal” teacher. The
present analysis is then a “natural” one regarding the communicative approaches but not
regarding the epistemological aspects.
Results and Analysis
Normally, the communicative approach in this curricular unit is almost all the time
interactive. The teacher tries to encourage students to express their opinions and listens to
what they have to say. In order to show dialogic potential of the modelling process and some
difficulties linked to the maintenance of dialogic communicative approach and its
relationships with the modelling processes, we present below the analysis of four episodes of
the sequence. These four episodes took place in the activities 1, 2, 6 and 14 respectively
(among 15).
A categorisation of the whole transcripts of the teaching sequence had been achieved for
another work by the authors, as regards to the communicative approach. The relevant episodes
for our present purpose were selected from the transcripts and checked for the categories of
communicative approach, and completed for the categorisation of modelling processes and
semiotic registers.
Episode 1: explanation of the text of the model
In the first activity, an introductory one, the students and the teacher read a text called ‘text of
the model’, which gave a number of theoretical statements to be used by students during the
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activities of the sequence (see appendix 1). Students were explicitly expected to keep this text
with them during all the sessions and to refer to it when necessary.
Just before this episode the teacher had made a kind of association between the two worlds,
translating one into the other: the one from the geometrical optics theory and the other from
the world of objects and events that will be modelled which, in a large sense, coincide with
the world of everyday objects and events represented by sensible referents and expressed in
natural language; as the students read the text he recalled the elements presented in a simple
experiment of projecting a laser ray. He did so consistently for the word ‘source’ which was
associated to the laser pointer, for the word ‘receptor’, which was associated to the eyes, for
the word ‘medium’ which was associated to the ‘air’.
During the episode (see transcription1 table 1), the teacher explained the words
‘homogeneous’ and ‘isotropic’, and then dealt with the notion of light ray. He represented a
diagram of the current experiment on the blackboard (figure 2), drawing first the box for the
laser pointer and the line for the screen (before the beginning of the episode), and only latter
(turn 90) the representation of the ray.
Insert figure 2 about here
Insert table 1 about here
1 In the transcripts of the activities to be analyzed here, we numbered the turns of talk from the beginning of the
activity. In the second column we indicated the speaker (T for the teacher, Nl for a student we could not
identify, Cl for the whole class); in the third we indicated the transcription of the talk produced by the
participants, and if necessary, the person addressed in the talk (if no indication is given, the addressee is the
whole class); in the last column we gave indication of non verbal actions. In order to make the transcription
simple, we adopted a simplified code for transcribing the oral language: we kept the dot (.), the question mark (?)
and the exclamation mark (!), without the usual parentheses, to indicate a stress in the intonation, or a shift in the
tone indicating a question or an exclamation (these notations are thus inferences of researchers); a slash (/)
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The teacher begun this episode by making explicit the same sort of relationship for the word
‘isotropic’ (he considered the word ‘homogeneous’ as known by students). On turn 84 he
translated the word isotropic: “isotropic it means that if I make the experiment changing the
direction / of the LASER this will not change anything at all in this experiment / the light
behaves in the same way regardless of the direction of light propagation / this is not the case
of all the mediums”. At the same time he moved his hand all over to change the direction of
the laser beam. In his talk he begun with expressions from everyday language as ‘changing
the direction’ and ‘this will not change anything at all in this experiment’ and ended with an
expression that is closer to the words of the model: ‘the light behaves in the same way
regardless of the direction of light propagation’. Through this set of language and gesture he
assured that each word of the model corresponds to a real object or event and to their
expression in the words of everyday language.
It is worth noting that this “translation” involves the same sort of phenomenon we described
as secondarisation. The expressions in everyday language have a direct and unmediated
relationship with the objects and events they refer to, which characterize the primary speech
genres (Bakhtin, 1986). In the language of school physics this relationship is mediated by the
theoretical conceptual system and its particular expressions and this characterizes the
secondary speech genres. Thus, at the same time that he puts the two worlds in relation he
adopts explicitly a secondarisation attitude, by making clear the relationship between the
primary genre used to name objects and events of everyday life and the secondary genre of
school physics and of everyday life. In doing so he also presents two points of view, which
characterizes dialogic discourse: the point of view of geometrical optics and how it relates to
the point of view of everyday life, represented here by its natural objects and its expression in
everyday language.
indicates a small pause; when the pauses lasted longer, an approximate duration was indicated between
parentheses (for example (2s)); brackets ([ ]) indicate simultaneous talk.
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As the teacher was able to demonstrate the relationship between these two worlds and two
points of view we suggest that the modelling activity, in this case, has a potential to bring
dialogic discourse into being. Up to turn 84, the teacher used this potential very well.
Nevertheless, the teacher did not make the same sort of relationship between the worlds of
theories and models and the worlds of objects and events when he talked about the light ray.
In turn 85 a student read the statement of the model that introduced the concept of light rays:
‘under the conditions of geometrical optics / the light is modelled by the light rays’. In the
following turns, instead of referring to the world of objects and events as he had done with all
the others features of the model, the teacher made sure that the students already knew the
words (turn 86) and focused on how to represent the light rays in the same semiotic register
than for the experiment with the laser beam (turn 88). For the rectilinear propagation of light
the teacher simply repeated the words of the models (turn 92), stressing the condition that the
medium should be homogeneous and isotropic if this principle was to be observed. Again, no
reference was made to the world of objects and events. Right after, a student read the counter
intuitive feature of the model that a light ray has a null width (turn 93). Again the teacher
made no reference to the world of objects and events but explained what it meant to represent
a ray with null width in a schema.
Remarkably, when he turned his attention to the colour as a perception, which the model
associated with the wave length (turns 101-102), the teacher returned to the link between the
two worlds; when he came back to the representation of a ray (turns 103-105), the teacher
went back to the representation only.
From these observations we can infer that the teacher did not used the dialogic potential of the
differentiation between the worlds of model and theories and the worlds of objects and events
when talking about the light rays as he did for the other features of the model. The text of the
model itself seemed, to a certain extent, to lead the teacher to do so. Referring to appendix 1,
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we can see that the modelling of light fluxes as sets of rays, although present (lines 3 and 5),
is quite allusive. The issue of the shape and dimension of light areas which can be modelled
by rays and beams is not explicitly considered. A large amount of explanations remains
implicit and left as a work to be done by teachers, which can account for the problems
discussed in this paper.
What were the consequences of this lack of differentiation between the two worlds to the
ways the light rays were referred to throughout the sequence? For answering this question we
searched the words ‘ray’ and ‘beam’ (in French, ‘rayon’ and ‘faisceau’) throughout the
transcriptions to get a sense in the ways these words reappeared in the sequence. The word
‘ray’ reappeared in a far larger number than the word ‘beam’. Generally speaking, the lack of
explicit differentiation between the worlds of model and theories and the worlds of objects
and events persisted throughout the sequence when the teacher talked, interactively or non-
interactively, of light rays. In what follows we are going to present some episodes which will
exemplify this issue.
Episode 2: what is the status of a ray?
The second episode we are going to analyze (see transcription table 2) was taken from an
experimental activity aimed at providing evidence of, and discussing, the rectilinear
propagation of light. The episode happened in the end of the activity, when the teacher asked
the students to decide which lines in the ‘text of the model’ were at stake in the activity. The
teacher was talking to the whole class, and suddenly Ale interrupted him (turn 275), making a
comment related to the topic. The teacher engaged in a discussion with Ale, which could be
heard by the whole class.
Insert table 2 about here
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The part of interest in this second episode comprises turns 275 to 289 and it shows an
interaction between the teacher and Ale. Ale initiated the talk sequence expressing the idea
that a light ray belongs to the world of objects and events, through his statement in turn 275
that ‘but you cannot isolate [a ray]’. The teacher initially accepted the invitation to dialogue
and answered from the point of view of the theoretical model: ‘no, but you can represent it’.
Nevertheless, in turn 280 the teacher introduced an ambiguity in his discourse by referring to
the ray using the deictic ‘one’ and the same expression used by Ale (‘you can isolate’). It is
quite natural for a teacher to take the words his student offers in a verbal interaction and the
word ‘raycarries this unavoidable ambiguity of belonging to both the worlds of objects and
events and of theories and models. Nevertheless, by acting that way, the teacher
unconsciously contributed to blur the difference between his ‘ray’ as a model and the
student’s ‘ray’ as an object, as he oscillated between the words ‘represent’ and ‘isolate’ to
refer to a ray. From this moment to the closure of the episode there was a tension between
dialogic and authoritative discourse as the teacher, at the same time that he took into account
Ale’s objection, failed to explicitly differentiate between the two points of view. As a
consequence, he did not help Ale to realize that the isolated ray is an entity in a theoretical
model, not an object. This is confirmed by the final intervention from Ale, when he implicitly
asserted that one day one infinitely small pencil of light will be isolated, as he agreed only
‘nowadays’ with the teacher still ambiguous statement that ‘a ray can be represented, so it can
be isolated’.
This episode illustrates the difficulties the teacher faced to make explicit the differentiation
between the world of objects and events from the world of theories and models, when talking
about light rays. He failed to establish the relationships between the two worlds in the same
way as he had failed in the first episode, although in this second episode the point of view
which remained implicit in the first episode – what is a ray in the world of objects and events
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was made explicit by Ale, who treated the ray as an object and not as an element of the
model. This means that the dialogical potential of this episode was still higher, as the question
that remained implicit in the first episode (what is a light ray in the world of objects and
events?) was answered by Ale, but from a point of view that was not the scientific one.
Nevertheless, the answer to this question from the point of view of the physics remained
implicit. This episode also illustrates how a student trying to speak from the point of view of
school science can contribute to the dialogic differentiation between these two worlds. But
this also depends on the ability of the teacher to perceive the dialogic potential of these kinds
of initiative from the students.
Episode 3: the masked lens
The third episode (see transcription in table 3) came from an activity in which the students
had to predict what would happen if they put a mask in front of a converging lens giving a
real image from a real object (the light source in figure 3). Would the image be partly hidden?
As expected, in line with the literature in this domain, most of the students answered that part
of the image would disappear. This answer was a consequence of the ‘travelling image’
conception, and was in contradiction with the scientific point of view of ‘mapping point to
point’ between the object and the image (Galili, 1996). After having written their prediction,
students did the experiment, and tried to explain why their prediction was different from what
they observed.
The episode took place at the end of the activity, after the students had done the experiment.
Insert figure 3 about here
Insert table 3 about here
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In this episode, the teacher was presenting an explanation for the experiment. He asked
students to draw a diagram on their logbooks (turns 241-251, not shown), and finally
projected his own diagram using an overhead projector. For simplification we presented only
the transcriptions of the final part of the episode, turns 251 to 262.
Looking at his verbalisations, we see that he used the word ‘rays’ only twice in the whole
episode (turn 249, not shown, for the whole class, and turn 261, in a private talk with a
student). When giving his explanations he used instead the words ‘light’ or ‘luminous’ (turns
253, 255, and 262 when dictating). He also used the word ‘image’ all along the episode.
Analysing this discourse in terms of modelling processes, and of semiotic registers, we can
consider that the teacher did not express himself at every possible levels, which are given in
table 4.
Insert table 4 here
Only cases A (world of objects and events, described in natural language) and D (schematic
register for representation of the world of theories and models) were used in this episode: case
A corresponds to the explanation given by the teacher by using the word ‘light’ (255); case D
corresponds to the diagram the students have done, and to the diagram projected by the
teacher.
We can observe that the teacher did not fully interpret his schema in terms of natural
theoretical language (case C). He never said things like ‘a mask on the lens stops some rays,
but others rays in the beam coming from each point of the object can pass through the part of
the lens which is not masked, so these rays can gather in a point, which is the image point, so
the observed image is complete’. His interpretation was given only in terms of perceptible
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events (that the image is less luminous), case A. Case B (schematic register representing the
world of objects and events) was excluded by the instructions, as the students were not asked
to draw a schema of the real objects. We can consider that the teacher did a ‘short-circuit’,
passing directly from D to A, without giving a theoretical explanation in natural language.
This kind of ‘short-circuit’ is quite common in science classrooms and has important
consequences for the development of secondarisation attitudes by students. Although
theoretical explanation in natural language already characterizes the use of a secondary genre,
in which the relationships between the words and the objects are not direct but mediated by a
conceptual system, it seems to be easier for students to move from primary to secondary
genres if both genres are firstly expressed in a less artificial semiotic register – that of natural
language. Translating the world of familiar objects and events – in this case the ‘image’ – in
diagrams seems to involve two sorts of transitions, each one offering some kind of difficulty:
the transition between primary and secondary genres, both expressed in the same semiotic
register of natural language; and the transition between the semiotic register of natural
language and that of the diagrams. The absence of any of these steps in the path between the
world of objects and events and the world of theories and models seems to make more
difficult to handle the situation. The teacher thus missed the dialogic potential of the
modelling activity for bringing two semiotic registers in contact, here the part of the concept
of image expressed in the natural language and the part expressed in the diagrammatic
register.
It is also interesting to remark how the word ‘image’ was used in this exchange. This word is
typically a ‘bridge’ between two modelling levels and between primary and secondary speech
genres: in the world of objects and events, it indicates what students can perceive on the
screen (as in turns 251, last occurrence, and 262, two occurrences), and in this sense can be
used in both primary and secondary genres; in the world of theories and models, it indicates
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an element of the model and can be used in different semiotic registers which belong to
secondary genres. In this particular case it was used only as a representation on the schema
(turn 251, first occurrence).
Episode 4: what is a ray, what is a beam
Episode 4 (see transcription in table 5) showed the consequence of all these missed
opportunities for putting the different notions, semiotic registers, speech genres and different
points of view in dialogue. In this episode we can see how Ale seemed to internalise and use
the concept of ray.
Episode 4 happened in the context of an activity about the image through a plane mirror.
Students had to perform an experiment, consisting of localising the image of a needle in a
plane mirror. For this purpose, they draw on a sheet of paper the directions in which, through
the mirror, they could see the needle. Students, in order to find the image, had to draw at least
two lines in two directions (figure 4), which coincided with two rays. The teacher emphasised
that the image was symmetrical to the needle in the mirror. Consequently, the discussion a
beam, being a set of rays between those two extremes, was introduced.
Insert figure 4 here
Insert table 5 here
This episode happened in the last but one activity of the sequence and showed Ale at ease
with the task of making diagrams. The episode is very illustrative because of Mat’s question
at the very beginning (turn 200: ‘a beam / what is a ray a ray and a beam’) which means ‘what
is the difference between a ray and a beam?’ The question allowed for both Ale and the
teacher to express their partly coincident definitions. The meaning Ale expressed associated to
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‘ray’ was just restricted to the schematic register: ‘a ray is exactly this that you have
represented’ (turn 201). To explain that a beam ‘is the set of two rays’ (turn 203) Ale asked
Mat to represent a second ray. In turn 211 the teacher made explicit his definition (‘a beam of
light is a set of rays / these are all the rays coming from the point A in this case inside these
two rays’). The understanding of the notion of ‘beam’ by Ale seems restricted to the
schematic register, and to the extreme rays of a beam.
This episode confirmed that the schematic register had the priority in referring to rays and
beams. The status of such entities was never talked about in the register of natural language
after the ‘incident’ described in episode 2. Although Ale demonstrated that he had mastered
how to operate with the concept of ray and beam in the schematic register, which allowed him
to do all the diagrams in the activities on this sequence, it is not possible to know if he had
changed the status he had attributed to the ray in episode 2: something belonging to the world
of objects and events that ‘we cannot isolate’ ‘nowadays’. In episode 4 the discourse was
clearly authoritative as the students and the teacher were talking from the same school science
point of view, yet, from a limited angle inside this conceptual horizon, the one of the semiotic
representation of entities.
Discussion
The analysis of the four episodes raises some questions related both to the nature of modelling
activities, of the use of various semiotic registers, and to their potential to bring dialogic
discourse into being in the classroom. The story being told by the four episodes is one of
missing this potential, offered by the differentiation between the two worlds. Even when a
student (Ale, in the second episode) offered a different point of view, bringing dialogicality
into the talk, the teacher failed to get the point. When the teacher did not explore every
possibilities of dialogism, some ‘short-circuits’ were operated: the teacher did not take all the
available steps to make the transition between primary and secondary speech genres. It led to
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the situation where the student mastered the operational definitions of rays and beams, but his
achievement of secondarisation remained uncertain. School is always in a pressure for time
and once more this had as a consequence the emphasis in the operational aspects of science in
detriment of the conceptual ones.
Another point to be made relates to the first episode and the nature of modelling it suggests.
During this episode, in the flow of discourse in the class, two kinds of words appeared which
corresponded to two different mechanisms of modelling. The first one consists of words like
source, receptor, medium, which correspond to elements of the experiment (the laser pointer,
the screen, the air). These words referred to some objects in the real world, as expressed by
the primary genres used in everyday language, with their unmediated link to the objects.
These words had also a function in the secondary genres that are being introduced, of
modelling these elements in the real experiment. By considering only this kind of words and
by establishing a correspondence of each word of the model to an object or event, one could
implicitly consider that models always match the reality in a univocal way: each entity in the
world of objects and events is modelled by an entity in the model and each entity of the model
has a correspondent in the world of objects and events (Tiberghien & Megalakaki, 1995;
Collet 2000). But the entity ‘rays’ goes beyond this univocal relationship, like many other key
terms in science, and thus belongs to a second category of words. Although the idea of a ‘ray”
is suggested by our experience with natural phenomena like ‘solar rays’, the ray as it is
defined into the model does not exist in the word of objects and events, it is imposed upon it
by the optical model: it is an idealization from real perceptions. Thus, in this second category
of words, the unmediated relationships these words have with the objects in primary speech
genres are problematic for their understanding in the context of school science. They begin to
exist in science classrooms as part of secondary speech genres, in which the relationship
between the words and the objects is always mediated by a conceptual system. The important
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point here is that there are entities that go beyond this univocal and functional relationship
between the world of models and theories and the world of objects and events.
When we think about how the status of atoms and molecules changed alongside the history of
science, we can infer that science tends to ‘create reality’ from its models. Atoms and
molecules started as clear non consensual entities in a model in the beginning of the XIX
century, changed to consensual entities in a model in the beginning of the XX century to end
as real entities that can be manipulated in nanotechnology in the beginning of the XXI
century. So, it is not a surprise that Ale thought that a single ray might be isolated one day.
The second category of words (ray, image, force, power, current…) can be seen as ‘bridging
words’: they are used both in speech genres of everyday life for referring to elements of the
world of objects and events and in the school science speech genres for elements of the world
of theories and models, with different but correlated meanings. Consequently they present
both advantages as well as risks: the internalisation of their meaning in the school science
speech genres can be helped by the correspondences with their meaning in genres of everyday
life (it is the idea of founder notions, see Buty et al., 2004: 585); but the distinction between
the two different meanings can also be blurred. One of the instructional tasks when using
these words is to help students distinguishing when they may use them in one speech genre or
in the other.
It is interesting to notice that these views are probably not limited to science learning and
understanding, and can be considered from a broader instructional point of view. In our point
of view, modelling processes in science teaching and learning could favour secondarisation
attitudes: a clear distinction between the worlds of objects and events allows students to
consider the theoretical construction of science and the scientific discourse as ‘second’
realities created by secondary speech genres (as Bakhtin explicitly said), in which the
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relationships between words and objects are not direct but mediated by a conceptual system;
if, besides making clear the distinction between the two worlds, the teacher favours the
distinction between the points of view of school science and the everyday ones, this attitude
can favour a deep dialogic understanding of physical models and theories, as it becomes
possible for students to put the primary and second planes, and also the primary and
secondary genres in dialogue and to ‘lay down a set of their own answering words for each
word of the utterance they are in process of understanding’ (Voloshinov, 1929/1973: 102).The
generalisability, a major property of scientific models, precisely allows students establishing
‘a circulation of knowledge and activities from one moment and from one academic object to
others’ (Bautier & Goigoux, cf. supra, our translation), in the relevant area.
Conclusions and implications
Let us recall the research questions we have proposed at the beginning of the paper:
How did the teacher manage the dialogicity and the modelling processes in the classroom
discourse?
What were the difficulties he encountered in linking the various points of view, relatively to
modelling processes or to semiotic registers?
What were the consequences of these difficulties for students’ understanding?
Throughout the four episodes we have highlighted a complex interplay between success and
failure in the use of the dialogic potential of modelling process, or of semiotic registers. The
observed teacher, an experienced one, has for habit to give a large space for students’
expression and points of view; in this sense, he has acquired strong enough bases for
instituting dialogicity in his classes. From his participation to the elaboration of research-
based teaching sequences, he feels a strong concern for modelling processes and for the
clarification of these processes for students. Nevertheless, the lack of theoretical tools or
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guidelines regarding the communicative approaches, comparable to those he masters for
modelling processes, sometimes lead him to miss some key steps:
The distinction (episode 1) between the ray, seen as an object by the everyday language, and
the ray, seen as an element of a theoretical model by physics language; this might be the cause
of the problems (episode 2) the observed student had in understanding the status of a ray, and
his confusion between two models of light; a second consequence was that the teacher
suddenly shifted from dialogic to authoritative approach.
The translation between semiotic registers (episode 3), which was incomplete; we found an
echo in the behaviour of students about rays and beams, only handled as drawing elements
(episode 4).
The analysis reported here confirms previous results (Mortimer & Scott, 2003) on the
difficulties of reaching a suitable balance between dialogic and authoritative discourse in
science classroom. At the same time it adds a new dimension to the problem, in taking into
account the difficult task of establishing meaningful relationships between the world of
objects and events and the world of theories and models; the teacher’s capacity to sustain
dialogic discourse appears as a crucial point. A particularly important aspect is the necessity
to deal dialogically with words or expressions (rays, beams) which science inherited from
everyday language, in order to help students in the process of secondarisation. That teachers
explicitly refer to both everyday and scientific points of view in these matters seems, in a
dialogic communicative approach, to be crucial for allowing students to differentiate between
the two points of view and to recognize that these words can be expressed and thought about
in more than one semiotic register.
These results give some insights on possible direct implications for teaching practice and
teacher training. The analysis of episodes in which dialogic discourse is prematurely aborted,
when it still has a potential for the purpose of teaching modelling activities, can help teachers
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to reflect on their practice in order to reach an appropriate balance between dialogic and
authoritative discourse in classrooms.
By this analysis, we claim we have contributed to the development of the two theoretical
frames, modelling processes and communicative approaches, in line with the previous
trajectory of these ideas.
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Appendix 1: extract of the ‘text of the model’
The following text was given to the students at the very beginning of the sequence.
1. Light propagates from a light source to a receptor through a transparent medium. It
conveys energy from the source to the receptor.
2. The word ‘medium’ indicates the matter which is passed through by light. When its
optical properties are the same everywhere, we say that the medium is homogenous.
When its properties are the same whatever the direction of the light may be, we say
that the medium is isotropic.
3. In the conditions of geometrical optics, light is modelled by light rays.
4. In an homogenous and isotropic medium, a light ray has:
a. A straight and unique direction (‘principle of the rectilinear propagation of
light’)
b. No width
c. A given wave length or a given range of wave lengths, linked to the colour
sensation
It is represented by a line, a half-line or a segment.
5. A light flux is modelled by a light beam, continuous set of rays (….)
6. The human eye is an important receptor (….) Our brain is trained to interpret light
sensations according to the principle of the rectilinear propagation of light.
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Figure 1: Mortimer and Scott (2003) analytical framework
Aspect of Analysis
i. Focus 1. Teaching Purposes 2. Content
ii. Approach 3. Communicative approach
iii. Action 4. Teacher interventions 5. Patterns of Interaction
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Figure 2: diagram on the blackboard during episode 1
Laser
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Figure 3: Diagram of the experiment in episode 3
Screen
Light source
Lens with a
mask
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Figure 4: expected students’ drawings in the experiment of episode 4
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Table 1: transcription of episode 1, introduction of the double-faced word “ray”
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79
Nl The word medium designates the matter which is
crossed by the light / when its optical properties are
the same all over / we say that the medium is
homogeneous
Nl reads the text of
the model
80
T Homogeneous that is a word you know. Afterwards?
81
Nl When its optical properties are identical with respect
to the direction of light propagation / we say that the
medium is isotropic
82
T Well do you know this word / isotropic?
83
Nl ((T)) (inaudible)
84
T Isotropic this means that if I make the experiment
changing the direction / of the LASER this will not
change anything at all in this experiment / the light
behaves in the same way regardless the direction of
light propagation / this is not the case of all the
medium / so let’s continue
T shows with his
fingers the
experiment of
LASER
T makes a
horizontal
movement with his
hand to show the
direction of light
propagation
85
Nl Under the conditions of geometric optics / the light is
modelled by the light rays
86
T So. “light rays” these are words that you have already
used?
87
Cl ((T)) Yes
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88
T Yes at least at grade 10 / if we wanted a ray become
visible on the diagram where would we put it? Where
would we draw it on the diagram you have just drawn?
T points to the
diagram of the
experiment on the
board
89
Nl ((T)) (inaudible)
90
T You would do / a line on this diagram here and then
we put an arrow to show the direction of light
propagation (10s) is that okay? No question? So Mat
let’s continue with line number 4
T draws a ray on the
diagram of the
experiment on the
board (see figure 2)
91
Ma
t
((T)) In a homogeneous and isotropic medium a light
ray has / a unique rectilinear direction / this is the
principle of rectilinear propagation of light
92
T This is a principle you all know / light propagates in
straight line but pay attention now you should add/ if
the medium is homogeneous and isotropic / afterwards
93
Ma
t
((T)) null width
94
T Null width. Did we take this into account in the
diagram?
95
Cl ((T)) No
96
T No so what could we have done on the diagram to
translate the model?
97
Nl ((T)) (inaudible)
98
T How can we draw something with null width?
99
Nl ((T)) (inaudible)
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100
T What does this mean? We cannot do anything better
than a straight line(.) this translate the fact that the
width is null / negligible / null means represented by a
line / exactly as you do the straight line in math / or
the segments / and then
T makes a
movement with his
hand to indicates a
straight line
101
Ma
t
((T)) A certain wave length or a certain range of wave
length / linked with the colour sensation
102
T That’s what you have seen in middle school and in
grade 10 you all knew that according to the wave
length the light / gives a sensation of colour which can
change / you know all these things / so let’s continue
103
Ma
t
((T)) It is represented by a straight line / a semi
straight line or a segment.
104
T Well on the diagram what did we represent it with?
105
Nl ((T)) A segment
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Table 2: transcription of episode 2, can we isolate a ‘ray’ or represent a ‘ray’?
269.
T You have instinctively well had the reflex to
represent rays and beams/ in which line is it?
T refers to the line of
the model on the sheet
that has been
distributed
270.
Ale ((T)) Ah! it’s the rays Ale looks at his paper
for the text of the
model
271.
Nl ((T)) On the five
272.
T That’s it and the rays on the number three / you
have done whether rays or beams
273.
Mat
((T)) Three four five
274.
T That’s it / so you write
275.
Ale ((T)) [but you cannot isolate]
276.
T [We are referring to] / ((Ale)) Tell me? Ale tries to say
something to T who
directs his attention to
him
277.
Ale ((T)) You cannot isolate a ray, right?
278.
T ((Ale)) No / but you can represent it
279.
Ale ((T)) Yeah
280.
T ((Ale)) But in geometric optics you can isolate one /
We shall see this later for the moment let’s consider
we can::
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281.
Ale ((T)) (inaudible)
282.
T ((Ale)) Where have you seen this?
283.
Ale ((T)) No but that’s that’s not possible
284.
T ((Ale)) Why?
285.
Ale ((T)) Well I don’t know it should have the size of a
photon to get something / and still
Ale makes a sign with
his fingers to show the
width of a ray
286.
T ((Ale)) Well / this is complicated what you tell me
indeed / for the moment in geometric optics / we
don’t ask this question / and we consider that we
can represent a ray / thus isolate a ray /
Yes? we do as if / even if nobody has never
succeeded I shall say
287.
Ale ((T)) Nowadays Ale turns towards Mat
288.
T ((Ale)) It doesn’t preclude us to analyse well / by
making this hypothesis and by accepting that it is
possible
289.
Mat
((Ale)) (inaudible)
290.
T So you write / for the answer three a / we are
referring / particularly to lines three and five
(repeated) (2s) to represent the light (repeated) by
rays and light beams (6s) and (5s) to line four for
rectilinear propagation / as you made rays. (15s)
T begins to draw a
diagram of the
situation on the
blackboard
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Table 3: transcription of episode 3, explanation of the experiment of the masked lens
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251
T You should have proposed an answer by now (2s) you
have the same scale as yesterday you put an object AB
with 14,5 millimetres instead of 29 at 80 centimetres so
8 centimetres on the scale and the image 57 centimetres
(64s). Have you done this diagram? Right. Well I’m
going to project it / so does this properly express the
fact that there is an image on the contrary of what you
have thought?
T looks at a diagram
drawn by a student.
252
Al
e
((T)) Yes.
253
T Does it make clear the fact that it is less luminous?
254
Al
e
((T)) Yes.
255
T Yes / there is less light which arrives at the lens
because we put a mask on it / then what I ask you to do
is to represent the the screen I put a real screen there.
You put A’ and B’ because if I mask them you are not
going to see them anymore and you should not put the
light which passes (2s) look A’ B’ which are masked /
this is the diagram that you should have done unless
you put the mask on the bottom which is the same thing
(inaudible)
T projects the diagram
and shows the screen
(a piece of white
paper) which masks
part of the
transparency
256
Nl ((T)) If we had put the mask (inaudible)
257
T ((Nl)) Just behind you mean?
258
Al ((Nl)) This doesn’t change anything
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e
259
Nl ((T)) This doesn’t change anything (3s)
260
T You must put the arrows indeed and then it is better to
use two different colours for the points (inaudible)
otherwise this makes a little (inaudible) (32s) Have you
done it? you have correctly placed A’B’ because it is
masked and then you must get used to call A the point
that is on the axis (2s) this is a convention / A is on the
axis B isn’t on the axis according to this convention
(4s) and then we are going to make a little sentence
with a comment
T refers to the
projected diagram
261
T ((Nl)) First you should finish (inaudible) you have put
only one ray there for the moment (8s)
262
T ((Cl)) If it isn’t worthwhile you don’t have to write but
if you are not sure yet you put that on the contrary to
what you have foreseen you observe an image that is
not at all cut short by the mask / if this is clear you
don’t need to write it / but don’t make this mistake
anymore and then you put this diagram accounts well
for the fact that we still observe an image / in spite of
the presence of the mask (2 repetitions) (7s) it is less
luminous (inaudible) it is less luminous (2s) do you
agree?
T starts to dictate (in
italics)
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Table 4: possible combinations of modelling processes and semiotic registers
Natural language register Schematic register
World of objects and events A B
World of theories and models
C D
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Table 5: transcription of episode 4, what is the relation between a beam and a ray?
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199
T ((Ale)) Then now you should have made a beam as I
have demanded
200
Mat ((Ale)) A beam / what is a ray a ray and a beam
201
Ale ((Mat)) A ray is exactly this / what you have
represented / do a second line / you should do a
second line
202
T ((Mat)) It is a set of rays (inaudible) of rays on the
extremity this is a beam
203
Ale ((Mat)) It is the set of two rays
204
Mat ((Ale)) Yes, agreed
205
T (inaudible) The children (inaudible)
206
Mat ((Ale)) How did you do that one
207
Ale ((Mat)) Take A prime
208
Mat ((Ale)) No but I don’t need it / ah yes right right They talk while
doing the diagram
209
Ale ((Mat)) Take A prime
210
Mat ((Ale)) This makes fifteen not fourteen / fourteen is at
the other side (7s) it is true it is much simpler than the
way you said / and I had a good one also at the first
They talk while
doing the diagram
211
T A beam of light is a set of rays / these are all the rays
coming from point A in this case between these two
rays
T shows the diagram
on the blackboard
212
Mat ((Mat)) Ok
213
Ale ((Mat)) This yes it is like the billiards when you hit a
edge
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214
Mat ((Ale)) Yes but it depends on how hard is the edge /
yes
215
Ale ((Mat)) Yes if you hit it well
216
Mat ((Ale)) Yes
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DIALOGIC/AUTHORITATIVE DISCOURSE AND MODELLING IN A HIGH
SCHOOL TEACHING SEQUENCE ON OPTICS
Christian Buty (1), Eduardo F. Mortimer (2)
(1) UMR ICAR – University Lyon 2 - CNRS – ENS-LSH – ENS Lyon – INRP, France
(2) Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
Postal address: Christian Buty, UMR ICAR, ENS LSH, BP 7000, 15 parvis René Descartes,
69342 LYON CEDEX 7, FRANCE
Email address: Christian.Buty@inrp.fr
Running head: dialogic/authoritative discourse and modelling
Acknowledgements
This work was supported by CNPq and CAPES (Brazil), CNRS and INRP (France).
The authors wish to express their gratitude to the reviewers on one hand, and on the other
hand to Pr. Andrée Tiberghien (CNRS), to Pr. Maria-Pilar Jimenez-Aleixandre (University of
Santiago de Compostela), and to Pr. Robin Millar (University of York).
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... Teachers must be aware of the communicative approach model in order to create such a classroom environment. e "Communicative Approach Model" has attracted the attention of many researchers, especially in the fields of science and mathematics education [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]. Many of these studies suggest that authoritative (interactive/noninteractive) discourse is dominant in classroom communication and interaction and that dialogic (interactive/noninteractive) discourse is used little or not at all. ...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this research is to reveal how communication and interaction in classrooms can be enhanced with the communicative approach education provided for social studies teachers. The participants of this research were five social studies teachers working at secondary schools and their 7th grade students, N = 110. The data collection tools adopted in this research were video and audio recordings, documents, semistructured interview forms, and stimulated recall interview forms. The data obtained from recordings of lessons were analyzed using the communicative approach, and the data obtained from document review and interview were analyzed using the content analysis method. The results of the study show that social studies curriculum contains items that require both dialogical and authoritative discourses and that the course books are prepared accordingly, but teachers as the practitioners of the program do not conduct their lessons accordingly. Instead, all the teachers participating in the research used only authoritative (interactive/noninteractive) approaches and they did not include dialogical (interactive/noninteractive) approaches at all. This situation, which is seen as a problem in terms of conducting successful in-class communication and interaction, has been solved in three action cycles with one of the teachers. The teacher who used only authoritative (interactive/noninteractive) approaches in her lessons prior to the trainings started to include dialogical (interactive/noninteractive) approaches too. It was also observed that the teacher’s impression of the lessons carried out by adopting the communicative approach model was positive. As a result of the research, it was concluded that the communicative approach model is applicable in the social studies course. It can be said that the trainings given to the teachers created awareness about the use of the communicative approach model in classroom communication and interaction and provided benefits in diversifying discourse styles. 1. Introduction The current developments in science and technology, the changing needs of the individuals and the society, and the advancements in learning-teaching theories and approaches have directly affected the roles expected from educated individuals [1]. Because, education holds a key role in dealing with the problems that emerge with the rapidly changing world conditions. The desire to raise active citizens who are compatible with the changing world conditions in parallel to the new knowledge and values have triggered education reforms in Turkey, as is the case in the other parts of the world. Because there is a need for entrepreneurial, empathetic individuals who contribute to the society and culture producing knowledge and using this knowledge functionally in life by means of communication, critical thinking, questioning, and problem-solving skills, rather than individuals who have just enough knowledge to do what they are told to do [2]. Accordingly, the current social studies curriculum in Turkey was designed to adopt a research and inquiry-based learning strategy. With the implementation of this new curriculum, the teaching style required a reformulation by putting extra emphasis on classroom discourse where student contribution is of crucial importance because the in-class activities in this new system provide a chance for the students to meet and think about new/different perspectives [3]. In this new education system, an instructor’s knowledge of the subject matter is critical, but not sufficient [4]. This has changed the teacher role from the knowledge transmitter to guide and facilitator and the student role from knowledge receiver to user, researcher, questioner, and explainer of technology. Although in theory the teacher is withdrawn from the center, it is not easy to abandon the traditional teacher-centered approach in practice. The problem is, as the implementers of the program, teachers are often unaware that they are conducting a teacher-centered educational process. Reasons such as anxiety about classroom management and syllabus and inability to abandon habits and failure to adapt to change cause teachers to display an authoritarian style in classroom communication. For this study, determining the types of the communicative approach applied by teachers in social studies classrooms is considered to be of crucial importance for improvement. The aim of this research is to reveal how in-class communication and interaction in social studies teaching can be improved with the communicative approach training provided for teachers. Our research questions are as follows. (1) What is the current situation regarding the use of communicative approaches in social studies education? (2) What kind of a change did the action plans create in in-class communication and interaction? (3) What are the teacher’s views on the social studies course, which is conducted by adopting the communicative approach model? This study aims to answer these questions with reference to the existing literature. 1.1. Communicative Approach The communicative approach developed by Mortimer and Scott [5] is a model that focuses on the types of discursive interactions that take place between teachers and students (including those between students) in the classroom and tries to explain how these types of interaction play a role in the meaning-making and learning processes. This approach has two dimensions: dialogic/authoritative and interactive/noninteractive. By synthesizing these two dimensions, four different classes of the communicative approach, which are interactive/dialogic, interactive/authoritative, noninteractive/dialogic, and noninteractive/authoritative, have been revealed. The two strands of this approach are presented in Table 1. Interactive (multiple voices) Noninteractive (one voice) Dialogic (different points of views) Interactive/dialogic (both the teacher and the students actively participate and are open to different perspectives to construct knowledge jointly) Noninteractive/dialogic (at the end of the speech series that are open to different perspectives, the teacher chooses different ideas from students and shares these ideas by referring to the student) Authoritative (one single point of view) Interactive/authoritative (the students’ opinions are expressed as long as they are coherent with the teacher’s point of view) Noninteractive/authoritative (the teacher focuses on a specific point of view and conveys information through direct instruction without interacting with students)
... This topic was selected because it contained an outstanding negotiation of meaning (Mortimer, 1998). The discursive purpose of the teacher was to create a discursive atmosphere in which the students would present their theoretical models (Buty & Mortimer, 2008;Ziman, 2001) in response to their conceptual, epistemological, and ontological contradictions revealed by the teacher during the initial phases of the implementation. Thus, there were three interwoven phases of the implementation. ...
Article
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This study presents a fine-grained analysis of teacher discursive moves (TDMs) that aid students to alter their thinking and talking systems. The participants were a science teacher and his class of 26 sixth-grade students who were engaged in immersion inquiry activities. The major data source was the video recorded in the classroom. This video-based data was analysed through systematic observation in two phases comprising coding and counting to reveal the mechanics of the discursive journey. Three assertions were made for the dynamics of the discursive journey. The teacher enacted a wide range of TDMs incorporating those that are dialogically/monologically oriented, simplified (observe-compare-predict), and rather sophisticated moves (challenging). The challenging TDMs were the most featured among all analytical TDMs. Once higher-order categories were composed by collapsing subcategories of the displayed TDMs, the communicating-framing TDMs were found to be the most prominent performed moves. Lastly, the teacher created an argumentative atmosphere in which the students had rights to evaluate and judge their classmates and teacher’s utterances that modified the epistemic and social authority of the discursive journey. Educational recommendations are offered in the context of teacher noticing pertaining to the mechanics and dynamics of the discourse journey.
... Como metodologia para transcrição, separação e análise dos trechos de comunicação sinalizados, nos apoiamos nas simbologias sugeridas por Buty e Mortimer (2008). Quando durante a fala ocorre uma pausa curta, indicamos por barra dupla (//) e quando as pausas são mais longas, indica-se com a duração, em segundos, entre parênteses, conforme método também explícito e utilizado em Mortimer et al. (2014). ...
... In Turkey, teacher's questioning in early childhood has not been examined in a discursive context. When the international literature is reviewed, classroom discourse mostly researched in primary education and beyond (Chin, 2006;Mortimer & Buty, 2008;Grace & Langhout, 2014;van Kleeck, Vander Woude and Hammet, 2006). Studies conducted in early childhood indicate that the number of studies in pre-school period should increase (Goodwin & Kyratzis, 2007;Sands, Carr, & Lee, 2012). ...
... Teachers would acquire certain skills such as participating in laboratory investigation, experimental designing, data collection, analysing, data interpretation and classroom engagement. Teachers would be able to convey the characterized modelling learning in the science classroom (Buty & Mortimer, 2008). ...
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Thesis
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