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LINGUIST List 23.2166

Fri May 04 2012

Diss: Discourse Analysis: Liu: 'Scientific Literacy in Secondary School Chemistry: A multimodal perspective'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>


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Date: 04-May-2012
From: Yu Liu <nusliuyugmail.com>
Subject: Scientific Literacy in Secondary School Chemistry: A multimodal perspective
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Institution: National University of Singapore
Program: Department of English Language and Literature
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Yu Liu

Dissertation Title: Scientific Literacy in Secondary School Chemistry: A multimodal perspective

Dissertation URL: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/31637

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

Dissertation Director:
Ismail S Talib
Kay L O'Halloran

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis is situated within the research field of multimodality and in
the pedagogical context of science education. It aims to offer a semantic
account of multi-semiotic representations and verbal discourse in secondary
school chemistry education. The present study is motivated to provide
instructors with useful tools to design their teaching practice in ways
that enhance young learners' understanding of scientific knowledge.The
corpus comprises authorized scientific representations from textbooks,
which have significant impacts upon the teaching practice. It also consists
of video sequences of classroom communication on the topic of Arenes in
which the multi-semiotic PowerPoint slides and the teacher and students'
verbal discourse are selected for analysis. The different data are analyzed
from a multimodal social semiotic perspective in four complementary
sub-studies. The first sub-study investigates the ways in which different
aspects of chemical literacy can be developed in a coordinated manner. The
second one explores the functional specialization of chemical symbolism and
structural formulas. Third, this research focuses on grammatical choices,
which tend to shift their probabilities of occurrence in both verbal and
multimodal discourse. The fourth sub-study aims to show how the curriculum
content of benzene is construed in the teaching sequence. The main findings
can be summarized as follows: First of all, the social semiotic dimensions
of metafunction, multimodality, stratification and realization provide a
coherent platform for conceptualizing the interrelationships between
different scientific literacy components. Secondly, symbolic modes and
scientific diagrams possess a range of specialized grammatical resources to
realize ideational, interpersonal and textual meaning. For example,
chemical symbolism interprets reactivity at the submicroscopic level
through the mechanism of 'reactive processes' not possible by using
language. Furthermore, it is found that the PROCESS TYPE system and the
PARTICIPANT TYPE system operate in both verbal and multimodal
representations to construe experiential meaning. Last but not least,
analysis of two systems in the teaching sequence reveals that at each stage
the curriculum content of benzene is shaped by a particular set of
multi-semiotic and verbal elements and there is a semantic shift from
macroscopic meaning to submicroscopic meaning when the classroom discourse
unfolds. The multimodal analysis in this research has important pedagogical
implications. It offers a meta-language for teacher and students to
explicitly discuss chemical representations and negotiate their meaning.
Further to this, the social semiotic approach provides a principled basis
for instructors to select and sequence semiotic resources in relation to
the construal of curriculum content.



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