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Title: Making sense of a, b, c’s of science: A dialectics between everyday and scientific conception
Authors: Yeo, Jennifer Ai Choo
Tan, Seng Chee, 1965-
Tang, Kok Sing
Keywords: Meaning making
Problem-based learning
Social semiotics
Everyday concept
Scientific concept
Issue Date: Nov-2006
Citation: Paper presented at the International Science Education Conference, Singapore, 22-24 November 2006
Abstract: Problem-based learning (PBL) was first introduced to address the problems of traditional instructional approaches that adopt the “learn first apply later” philosophy (Koschmann, Kelson, Feltovich & Barrows, 1996). But how effective is PBL in helping students to learn science? To this, we adopt Lemke’s social semiotic lens (1990) to investigate the conceptual meaning making process in discourses among students in a PBL context. Meaning, deeply embodied in cultural artifacts, is inseparable from the context, constructed through experiences and interaction, with the knower and known mutually coupled. To learn science is to be enculturated into its unique practices – ways of thinking and communication, and to appropriate its cultural tools constructed to facilitate communication, reasoning and problem solving. We conducted a study with a group of 14 year-old students working on problem related to mechanics over a period of three weeks. Interaction in a computer-supported collaborative learning environment was collected and analyzed. We adopted a micro-genetic approach to understand the meaning making process, with the goal of deriving effective scaffolding strategies. We intend to characterize instances of effective meaning making on scientific concepts and principles in the PBL process, and to derive possible conditions that lead to productive conceptual meaning making.
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