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Monday, March 1 • 12:35pm - 12:50pm
Talk Session 1: Developing student representational competence

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Co-author: Trevor Volkwyn, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

In order to make disciplinary meanings, science students need to coordinate a large number of semiotic systems such as graphs, diagrams, spoken and written language, gesture, mathematics, etc. In this respect, it has been suggested that there is a critical constellation of semiotic resources that is necessary for holistic construction of each scientific concept (Airey, 2009). Other actors have discussed this problem in terms of building students’ representational competence (Kozma & Russell, 2005; Kohl & Finkelstein, 2005; De Cock, 2012; Linder et al., 2014). Combining this work, Volkwyn et al. (2020:91) define representational competence as: “The ability to appropriately interpret and produce a set of disciplinary-accepted representations of real-world phenomena and link these to formalized scientific concepts.” In this talk, we first put forward a theoretical proposal for how such student representational competence may be developed, before empirically demonstrating the usefulness of this proposal for a particular representational system (graphs) in a particular area of physics (1-D kinematics). By coordinating kinematics concepts, the three graphs, and real-world movement, we show how the students begin to practice their representational competence. We also point out the complexity of this apparently simple system in representational terms.

avatar for John Airey

John Airey

Associate Professor, Stockholm University, Sweden
Dr John Airey is an associate Professor in University Physics Education at Stockholm University and a Reader in Physics Education Research at Uppsala University. My work is in social semiotics looking at how students learn to interpret and use disciplinary representations (including... Read More →

Monday March 1, 2021 12:35pm - 12:50pm CST