Cultural Historical Approach to Thinking
at the University of Victoria


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Research on Inscriptions

Following Dr. Wolff-Michael Roth's extensive research on graphs, our group at Chat@UVic continues to investigate the use of inscriptions in science related contexts. We use the word "inscription" to refer to any representation other than text, i.e., graphs, photographs, diagrams, charts, equations, drawings, and so on (Latour, 1984). Our work with inscriptions includes investigations about photographs and layered inscriptions, as well as further research on graphs and graphicacy.

Photographs in Textbooks and Classrooms In a collection of three studies about photographs in school science, we investigated the potential of photographs as pedagogical tools, from a semiotic perspective. In the first study of this series, we analyzed and categorized various photographs according to their pedagogical function in relation to captions and main texts. See abstract here In the second study, we investigated the use of photographs in lectures, when photographs were projected on the wall (or the screen), and the lecturer talked about these photographs. A relevant aspect came out of our analysis, namely, the use of gestures as semiotic resources for the interpretation of the photographs in association with the verbal text. We classified the types of gestures used by the lecturer according to their function in relation to the photographs. See abstract here Finally, in the third study of the series, we had students reading pages of textbooks which presented photographs. In this study, we analyzed which semiotic resources the students used, and how they used them to make sense of what they were reading. See abstract here.

Multiple Inscriptions in Textbooks Our research work with layered inscriptions was presented in two studies. In the first study, we defined, analyzed and categorized layered inscriptions in Korean middle school textbooks. We also developed, from a semantic/semiotic perspective, a framework to analyze layered inscriptions and the various types and levels of work required to interpret them. See abstract here Our second study investigated macro and micro worlds represented in various inscriptions present in Korean textbooks. See abstract here

Graphs and Graphicacy As part of a larger research agenda about graphing, we are analyzing physicists' interpretations of biology and physics graphs, focusing on the differences in interpretation due to in-the-field/ out-of-the-field perspectives. We analyze physicist's strategies for interpreting familiar (physics) graphs and unfamiliar (biology) graphs. Ultimately, by understanding how experts interpret and make sense of graphs, we will be able to design more authentic learning environments for students in science classes, in relation to graphs and graphing practices. See NARST 2006 Proceedings here

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Contact Us: Chat@UVic, MacLaurin Building, A420. University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada. V8W3N4. Tel:(250)721-7834 Fax:(250)721-7598