Figures of speech, signs of knowing: Towards a semiotic view of science conceptualization
AdvisorShort, Kathy G.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractModels for science education, rather than paralleling the process of scientific discovery, have traditionally involved the dissemination of information through texts and controlled lab experiences. These have had limited effect in the development of science concepts. Therefore, the focus of this study was to investigate alternative avenues, such as the use of narrative, for science conceptualization. Despite the potential for narrative as an avenue for science conceptualization, for the most part studies involving literature have not explored this relationship. The purpose of this study was to investigate the process of science conceptualization, with a specific focus on narrative. This was done through a fifth grade classroom based study where learning experiences were created, focused on the concept of interdependence in relationship to water. These experiences included open-ended, hands-on science experiences, literature discussion groups, self-selected research projects and the creation of narrative pieces based on those research projects. Data sources included: (a) audio and videotaped literature discussion group sessions; (b) audio and videotaped study group interviews and curricular sessions; (c) individual interviews; (d) learning log entries and reflections; and (e) student narratives. Data analysis was conducted within a semiotic theoretical framework and involved the process of retroduction. Retroduction entails a kind of spiraling dialectic between theoretical considerations and data incidences, from which are generated possible explanations. These possible explanations or abductions, provide direction for further forays into the data. The process of retroduction lends itself to the creation of data analysis chapters that highlight theoretical issues in relationship to the data or "theoretical memos". Three theoretical memos emerged from this process. Theoretical memo one explores the role of experience in conceptualization; theoretical memo two focuses on the role of analogy and narrative experiences in relationship to intertextuality in conceptualization; and theoretical memo three highlights metaphor in relationship to the intertextual process of transmediation, whereby conceptualization is symbolized through student generated narratives. Together, these memos provide some insights into aspects of the process of conceptualization that are often ignored both in "real" science as well as science instruction. The implications of the study findings are summarized in light of what is known about the discovery process, as compared to what happens in traditional science instruction.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading and Culture