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  • 1.
    Degerman, Mari
    et al.
    Mälardalens högskola, Akademin för utbildning, kultur och kommunikation.
    Larsson, C.
    Linköping University.
    Anward, J.
    Linköping University.
    When metaphors come to life: At the interface of external representations, molecular phenomena, and student learning2012Ingår i: International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, ISSN 1306-3065, Vol. 7, nr 4, s. 563-580Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    Grasping the dynamics of molecular phenomenon appears to be rather challenging for students in the context of life science. To pursue the origin of such difficulties this paper investigates students' (n=43) meaning making, in interaction with peers and an animation, of the dynamic process of ATP-synthase. To support this inquiry we introduce the CharM-framework (Characteristics of Metaphors), which accounts for students' experiences of metaphors while interacting with external representations (ERs) when trying to make meaning of molecular phenomena. Student-expressed metaphors are outlined and related to the animator's intentions while designing the animation. The analysis shows that some of the used metaphors possess in-built problematic characteristics that could act as potential problems for learning. For example, the metaphors machine and watermill possess problematic characteristics that are a possible reason for students' difficulties with unders-tanding the ATP-synthesis as a reversible and non-deterministic process. Furthermore, we also conclude that students' use of metaphors is highly influenced by the ER, which is designed according to the animator's internal representation of the scientific phenomenon and his intentions. The challenge associated with designing educational representations that sufficiently represent molecular processes is somewhat similar to the challenge student face while linking the characteristics of metaphors to the molecular processes. The CharM-framework can assist in the design process by allowing designers to reflect on how ERs could be interpreted or misinterpreted and also guide teachers' choice of educational representations. © 2012 IJESE.

  • 2.
    Stadig Degerman, Mari
    et al.
    Linköpings universitet, Institutionen för teknik och naturvetenskap.
    Larsson, Caroline
    Linköpings universitet, Institutionen för samhälls- och välfärdsstudier.
    Anward, Jan
    Linköpings universitet, Institutionen för kultur och kommunikation.
    When metaphors come to life: at the interface of external representations, molecular processes and student learning2012Ingår i: International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, ISSN 1306-3065, Vol. 7, nr 4, s. 563-580Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    When studying the molecular aspect of the life sciences, learners must be introduced to somewhat inaccessible phenomena that occur at the sub-micro scale. Despite the difficulties, students need to be familiar with and understand the highly dynamic nature of molecular processes. Thus, external representations1 (ERs) can be considered unavoidable and essential tools for student learning. Besides meeting the challenge of interpreting external representations, learners also encounter a large array of abstract concepts2, which are challenging to understand (Orgill & Bodner, 2004). Both teachers and learners use metaphorical language as a way to relate these abstract phenomena to more familiar ones from everyday life. Scientific papers, as well as textbooks and popular science articles, are packed with metaphors, analogies and intentional expressions. Like ERs, the use of metaphors and analogies is inevitable and necessary when communicating knowledge concerning molecular phenomena. Therefore, a large body of published research related to metaphors concerns science teachers’ and textbook writers’ interpretation and use of metaphors (Harrison & Treagust, 2006). In this paper we present a theoretical framework for examining metaphorical language use in relation to abstract phenomena and external representations. The framework was verified by using it to analyse students’ meaning-making in relation to an animation representing the sub-microscopic and abstract process of ATP-synthesis in Oxidative Phosphorylation. We seek to discover the animator’s intentions while designing the animation and to identify the metaphors that students use while interacting with the animation. Two of these metaphors serve as examples of a metaphor analysis, in which the characteristics of metaphors are outlined. To our knowledge,  no strategies to identify and understand the characteristics, benefits, and potential pitfalls of particular metaphors have, to date, been presented in science education research. Our aspiration is to contribute valuable insights into metaphorical language use at the interface between external representations, molecular processes, and student learning.

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