Cultural Historical Approach to Thinking
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Photographs in Lectures: Gestures as meaning making resources.

Photographs are the most frequent inscriptions in high school biology textbooks. However, little is known about how students make sense of and learn from photographs; even less is known about the different resources available for making sense of photographs when they appear in lectures. In this study, the use of photographs during lectures and lecture-type situations was analyzed with respect to the semiotic resources that speakers standing next to the projected photographs provided for understanding and learning from them. Our analysis identified eight types of gesture as semiotic resources that decreased the ambiguity inherent in photographs, and that have the potential to enhance the understanding of photographs and the scientific concepts embodied in them. We surmise that teachers can help their students learn to read and interpret photographs from lectures when they project them in such a way that it allows the use of gestures as additional meaning-making resources.

Pozzer-Ardenghi, L., & Roth, W.-M. (2005). Photographs in lectures: Gestures as meaning making resources. Linguistics and Education, 15, 275-293.

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