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Meaning making
Problem-based learning
Social semiotics
Everyday concept
Scientific concept
Issue Date: 
Yeo, J. A. C., Tan, S. C., & Tang, K. S. (2006). Making sense of a, b, c’s of science: A dialectics between everyday and scientific conception. In Y. J. Lee, A. L. Tan & B. T. Ho (Eds.), Proceedings of ISEC 2006 (pp. 951-959). Singapore: National Institute of Education.
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.
This paper was presented at the International Science Education Conference (ISEC 2006), held in Singapore from 22 - 24 Nov 2006
Appears in Collections:Conference Papers

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