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On Performing Concepts During Science Lectures

When lecturing, teachers make use of both verbal and nonverbal communication. What is called teaching, therefore, involves not only the words and sentences a teacher utters and writes on the board during a lesson, but also all the hands/arms gestures, body movementes, and facial expressions a teacher performs in the classroom. All of these communicative modalities constitute resources that may help us in making sense of the lectures. Yet in the literature on teaching and learning sciences, these other means of communication are little investigated and understood- and, correspondingly, they are under-theorized. The purpose of this paper is to argue for a different view of how science is communicated by teachers, which includes both verbal and nonverbal aspects of communication. How does the teacher communicate scientific concepts in the classroom? What are the verbal and nonverbal resources the teacher uses to teach scientific concepts? How are these resources connected to each other and to the scientific concepts presented? from a database of 26 lessons in a twelfth-grade biology class, where the human body was the main topic of study, we analyze how different types of resources- including verbal and nonverbal discourse and various material artifacts- interact during lectures. We provide evidence for the integration of these various sense-making resources during teaching to constitute a meaning unit, and we emphasize particularly the use of gestures and body orientations inside this meaning unit. We suggest that proper analyses of meaning units need to take into account not only language and diagrams but also a lecture's pointing and depicting gestures, body positions, and the relationships between these different modalitites. Scientific knowledge (conceptions) exists in the concurrent display of all sense-making resources, which we, following Vygostky, understand as forming a unit (identity) of non-identical entities.

Pozzer-Ardenghi, L., & Roth, W.-M. (2006). On performing concepts during science lectures. Science Education, 91(1), 96-114.

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