Teaching Multiliteracies in Scientific Discourse: Implications from Symbolic Construction of Chemistry*

  • Yu Liu Multimodal Analysis Lab, Interactive & Digital Media Institute (IDMI), National University of Singapore, 9 Prince George’s Park
Keywords: Multimodality, systemic-functional theory, chemical symbolism

Abstract

Recent research on science education has increasingly focused on the literacy challenges posed by multimodality. While students are required by government mandated syllabi to make a successful translation between different semiotic resources, there still remains a lack of research on the grammars and functionality of the specialized modalities to develop explicit instructions to improve literacy practices. This paper analyses the semiotic resource of chemical symbolism in secondary school chemistry textbooks with a Systemic Functional Multimodal Discourse Analysis approach (SF-MDA). It is argued that chemical symbolism is far from a jargon or mere shorthand for language. Instead, it develops unique grammatical devices to realize sub-microscopic meaning and topological meaning, which outstrips the meaning potential of language. The current study also discusses how the SF-MDA approach could develop a visible pedagogy and improve chemistry education.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Brock, W. (1993). The Norton history of chemistry. New York: Norton.

Chittleborough, G. D. (2004). The role of teaching models and chemical representations in developing students’ mental models of chemical phenomena. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Curtin University of Technology, Perth.

Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.). (2000). Miltiliteracies: Literacies learning and the design of social futures. Melbourne: Macmillan.

Gilbert, J. K. (Ed.). (2005). Visualization in science education. Dordrecht: Springer. [CrossRef]

Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as social semiotic: The social interpretation of language and meaning. London: Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd ed.). London: Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1998). Things and relations: Regrammaticizing experience as technical knowledge. In J. R. Martin, & R. Veel (Eds.), Reading science: Critical and functional perspectives on discourses of science (pp. 185-235). London: Routledge.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Hasan, R. (1985). Language, text and context. Victoria: Derkin University.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Martin, J. R. (1993). Writing science: Literacy and discursive power. London: The Falmer Press.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Matthiessen, C. (1999). Construing experience through meaning: A language-based approach to cognition. London and New York: Cassell.

Jones, J. (2007). Multiliteracies for academic purposes: A metafunctional exploration of intersemiosis and multimodality in university textbook and computer-based learning resources in science. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Sydney, Sydney.

Kress, G., & van Leeuwen, T. (1996). Reading images: The grammar of visual design. London: Routledge.

Kress, G., Jewitt, C., Ogborn, J., & Tsatsarelis, C. (2001). Multimodal teaching and learning: The rhetorics of the science classroom. London: Continuum.

Lemke, J. L. (1998). Multiplying meaning: Visual and verbal semiotics in scientific text. In J. R. Martin, & R. Veel (Eds.), Reading science: Critical and functional perspectives on discourses of science (pp. 87-113). London: Routledge.

Martin, J. R. (1997). Analyzing genre: Functional parameters. In F. Christie, & Martin, J. R. (Eds.), Genre and institutions: Social processes in the workplace and school (pp. 3-39). London and New York: Continuum.

Martin, J. R. (1999). Modelling context: A crooked path of progress in contextual linguistics. In M. Ghadessy (Ed.), Text and context in functiona linguistics (pp. 25-61). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

O’Halloran, K. L. (1996). The discourses of secondary school mathematics. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Murdoch University, Perth.

O’Halloran, K. L. (1999). Towards a systemic functional analysis of multi-semiotic mathematics texts. Semiotica, 124(1/2), 1–29. [CrossRef]

O’Halloran, K. L. (2000). Classroom discourse in mathematics: Multi-semiotic analysis. Linguistics and Education, 10(3), 359-388. [CrossRef]

O’Halloran, K.L. (2005). Mathematical discourse: Language, symbolism and visual images. London: Continuum.

O’Halloran, K. L. (2007). Systemic functional multimodal discourse analysis (SFMDA) approach to mathematics, grammar and literacy. In A. McCabe, M. O’Donnell, & R. Whittaker (Eds.), Advances in language and education (pp. 77-102). London and New York: Continuum.

O’Halloran, K. L. (2008). Systemic functional-multimodal discourse analysis (SFMDA): Constructing ideational meaning using language and visual imagery. Visual Communication, 7(4), 443-475. [CrossRef]

Onn, H. L., Ang, J. A., & Khoo, L. E. (2006). Chemistry expression: An inquiry Approach. Singapore: EPB Pan Pacific.

O’Toole, M. (1994). The language of displayed art. London: Leicester University Press.

Oversby, J. (2003). The development of chemical symbols and syntax as a means of communication about chemical change. Working paper in progress.

Pinker, S. (1994). The language instinct. New York: Morrow.

Singapore Chemistry GCE Ordinary Level (Syllabus 5067) revised for 2010. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2009, from http://www.seab.gov.sg/SEAB/oLevel/syllabus/2010_GCE_O_Level_Syllabuses/5067_2010.pdf.

Smith (Eds.), Multimodal studies: Multiple approaches and domains. New York and London: Routledge.

Unsworth, L. (2001). Teaching multiliteracies across the curriculum: Changing contexts of text and image in classroom practice. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Published
2010-02-17