Semiotic multiplicities and contradictions in science learning



In this paper, we explore the notion of situated and modally defined learning, aiming to identify and describe action structures as thought structures. Our focus is on investigating modal patterns that emerge during the learning process, using a case study involving a 5-year-old preschool child's conceptualization of mechanical equilibrium. To achieve this, we designed three identical tests, each eliciting different modal responses from the student. These tests comprised three tasks that varied semiotically. They were administered at different time points and interspersed with two distinct teaching interventions. The findings revealed that during the conceptualization of mechanical equilibrium, the student displayed semiotic multiplicities, employing various modalities and semiotic systems to represent the same conceptual dimensions of the phenomenon. Interestingly, the student's thinking exhibited regressions between compatible and non-compatible conceptualizations in line with school knowledge, leading to apparent contradictions. These observations highlight the concept of variability and underscore how multiplicities and contradictions are integral components of the dynamic learning process.


Science education, mechanical equilibrium, semiotic multiplicities, semiotic contradictions, science learning

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