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Exploring the role of physics representations: an illustrative example from students sharing knowledge about refraction
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics. (Fysikens didaktik, Physics Education Research)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics. (Fysikens didaktik, Physics Education Research)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics. (Physics Education Research, Fysikens didaktik)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6409-5182
2012 (English)In: European journal of physics, ISSN 0143-0807, E-ISSN 1361-6404, Vol. 33, no 3, 657-666 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research has shown that interactive engagement enhances student learning outcomes. A growing body of research suggests that the representations we use in physics are important in such learning environments. In this paper we draw on a number of sources in the literature to explore the role of representations in interactive engagement in physics. In particular we are interested in the potential for sharing disciplinary knowledge inherent in so-called persistent representations (such as equations, diagrams and graphs), which we use in physics. We use selected extracts from a case study, where a group of senior undergraduate physics students are asked to explain the phenomenon of refraction, to illustrate implications for interactive engagement. In this study the ray diagram that was initially introduced by the students did not appear to sufficiently support their interactive engagement. However, the introduction of a wavefront diagram quickly led their discussion to an agreed conclusion. From our analysis we conclude that in interactive engagement it is important to choose appropriate persistent representations to coordinate the use of other representations such as speech and gestures. Pedagogical implications and future research are proposed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 33, no 3, 657-666 p.
National Category
Physical Sciences
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-174356DOI: 10.1088/0143-0807/33/3/657ISI: 000303039600022OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-174356DiVA: diva2:528132
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2012-05-24 Created: 2012-05-15 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Using a Social Semiotic Perspective to Inform the Teaching and Learning of Physics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using a Social Semiotic Perspective to Inform the Teaching and Learning of Physics
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines meaning-making in three different areas of undergraduate physics: the refraction of light; electric circuits; and, electric potential and electric potential energy. In order to do this, a social semiotic perspective was constituted for the thesis to facilitate the analysis of meaning-making in terms of the semiotic resources that are typically used in the teaching and learning of physics. These semiotic resources include, for example, spoken and written language, diagrams, graphs, mathematical equations, gestures, simulations, laboratory equipment and working practices.

The empirical context of the thesis is introductory undergraduate physics where interactive engagement was part of the educational setting. This setting presents a rich data source, which is made up of video- and audio recordings and field notes for examining how semiotic resources affect physics teaching and learning.

Theory building is an integral part of the analysis in the thesis, which led to the constitution of a new analytical tool – patterns of disciplinary-relevant aspects. Part of this process then resulted in the development of a new construct, disciplinary affordance, which for a discipline such as physics, refers to the inherent potential of a semiotic resource to provide access to disciplinary knowledge. These two aspects, in turn, led to an exploration of new empirical and theoretical links to the Variation Theory of Learning.

The implications of this work for the teaching and learning of physics means that new focus is brought to the physics content (object of learning), the semiotic resources that are used to deal with that content, and how the semiotic resources are used to create patterns of variation within and across the disciplinary-relevant aspects. As such, the thesis provides physics teachers with new and powerful ways to analyze the semiotic resources that get used in efforts to optimize the teaching and learning of physics. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 178 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1241
Keyword
Social semiotics, semiotic resources, physics education research, interactive engagement, disciplinary affordance, disciplinary-relevant aspects, patterns of disciplinary-relevant aspects, the Variation Theory of Learning
National Category
Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-247771 (URN)978-91-554-9210-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-05-13, 10132, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-04-22 Created: 2015-03-23 Last updated: 2015-07-07

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Fredlund, TobiasAirey, JohnLinder, Cedric

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