Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Doing, talking and writing science: A discourse analysis of the process of resemiotization in a middle school lab-based science class
by Wright, Laura J., Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2008, 314; 3339929
Abstract (Summary)

This study examines students' sense making practices in a middle school science class from a discourse analytic perspective. Using Mediated Discourse Analysis (MDA) (Scollon 1998, 2001) and interactional sociolinguistics (Gumperz 1999, 2001, Schiffrin 1994), my research seeks to enrich findings from recent sociocultural studies of science classrooms that focus on doing, talking and writing science (Roth 2005, Kress, et al. 2002, Halliday & Martin 1993, Lemke 1990). Within a middle school science classroom, these fundamental activities form a nexus of practice (Scollon 1998, 2001) basic to science literacy (AAAS 1989) and reflective of the work of practicing scientists. Moreover, students' engagement in these practices provides insight into the cultural production and reproduction of science and scientist.

I first examine how the students' curriculum text encourages these three scientific practices and then trace students' uptake; that is, how they subsequently do, talk, and write science throughout the course of the unit. I argue that learning science with this curriculum unit requires students to resemiotize (Iedema 2001, 2003) first hand experience so they can represent their knowledge cohesively and coherently in evaluable forms. Ultimately, students must transform language from the curriculum text and their teacher into action in their laboratory activities and action in their laboratory activities into language. In addition, I show how students are apprenticed to the conventionalized practices and voices (Bakhtin 1986) of science (i.e. the scientific register), and how their figures of personhood (Agha 2005) reflect the development of their scientific identities. Overall, I argue that the microanalytic methods I use illuminate how students draw upon curricular resources to become scientifically literate and develop scientific identities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hamilton, Heidi E.
School: Georgetown University
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Secondary education, Science education
Keywords: Discourse analysis, Laboratory activities, Middle school, Resemiotization, Science education
Publication Number: 3339929
ISBN: 978-0-549-93977-1
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