This thesis explores the questions of how a teacher guides students to see concepts, and the role of gesture and gesture viewpoints in mediating the process of guidance. To examine these questions, two sociocultural theoretical frameworks--Radford's cultural-semiotic theory of knowledge objectification (e.g., 2003), and Goldman's Points of Viewing theory (e.g., 2007)--were applied to conduct a microanalytic, explanatory case study of the instructional activity of an exemplary teacher and his students in a middle school robotics programming class.
According to Radford, students acquire concepts as they draw upon semiotic resources such as language and gesture to generalize and objectify initially concrete perceptions and actions. I applied Radford's framework to explain the mediations that a teacher might enact in guiding students to objectify and see concepts. Furthermore, I focused on gesture as semiotic means because of emergent research on gesture's role in communicating the visuospatial imagery that underlies math/ scientific concepts. I extended the view of gestures to the viewpoints constructed in gesture, and applied Goldman's theory to explain how perspectives might be actively constructed and shared in the process of guiding student conceptualization.
Data was collected over a semester through participant observation, field notes, teacher and student interviews, and reviews of artifacts. Multimodal microanalyses were conducted on video data from eight class sessions.
The findings provide confirmations and some disconfirmations about the applicability of Radford's and Goldman's theories for explaining a teacher's process of guiding student conceptualization. Notably, some of Radford's notions about de-contextualization and symbolic generalizations were not confirmed. Overall, the findings are summarized through three themes including, grounding, and perceptual organizers as two ways that gesture and other means served to both index and identify action-perception schemes for bridging to the symbolic level of programming concepts and conceptual structures. A third theme of iteration, shifting, and layering described the quality of the teacher's process, and the importance of constructing shifting and multiple viewpoints in gesture and speech, as Goldman's theory proposed. Finally, implications for designing educational applications that draw upon gesture as mediational means are discussed.
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Dissertations for Technology of Education
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