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Chemical Inscriptions in Korean Textbooks: Semiotics of Macro- and Micro-worlds.

Thinking about a macroscopic phenomenon from a particle perspective is one of the important goals for students in learning chemistry. However, research suggests that students do not easily understand phenomena from a particle perspective. Korean science textbooks have cascades of colorful inscriptions that are intended to help students' learning. The first inscriptions that students encounter, which depict the particulate nature of matter, could give them an impression that would form a basis for understanding chemical concepts from then on. In this study, we explore the potential of a semiotic framework to study the relations between macro- and micro-world depicted by inscriptions in Korean textbooks. The purpose of this study is to investigate the function and structure of chemical inscriptions in middle school science textbooks. We develop the concept of "chemi(stry)-semiotics" that allows us to unveil the work of reading required to understand chemical inscriptions in the way they are intended. In Korean grade-seven textbooks, there are 2.24 inscriptions per page, including 0.33 inscriptions (14.9%) that represent particulate nature of matter. We began form the assumption that different kinds and functions (or structure) of inscritions constitute different "signs" in the learning process. We show that the difficulty in understanding the particulate nature of matter may result from the different semiosis between inscriptions depicting macroscopic and microscopic worlds. Our study provides a guide for presenting chemical inscriptions in textbooks, and for understanding how students learn from chemical insctiptions.

Han, J. Y., & Roth, W.-M. (manuscript submitted for publication). Chemical inscriptions in Korean textbooks: Semiotics of macro- and micro-worlds.

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