Changes in Representations of Knowledge

Presentation at the Kaleidoscope Conference, Cambridge 29 May 2015

Changes in Representations of Knowledge
M.Ed., M.A. Henrika Florén, Stockholm University, Department of Education

In school students need to represent their knowledge in material production as text, speech, film, images etc. Studying representations of knowledge in multimodal learning environments offers possible tools for identifying changing patterns in learning and representations of knowledge.

The study looks at digital representations of knowledge (multimodal texts) in a digital learning environment during August 2013-April 2015 in two groups of ESL students in Swedish upper secondary school.

The aim of the study was to identify changes in form and quality in representations of knowledge produced in a digital learning environment and with digital tools.

How do students represent knowledge and skills in English and how do they realize these representations? What changes in form and quality in representations of knowledge can be traced over time when looking back at digital representations of knowledge for two groups of ESL English at a Swedish upper secondary school produced during August 2013- April 2015?

The study uses a framework of multimodality and social semiotics  (Kress, 1997 and Kress & Van Leeuwen, 1996) which provides a theoretical platform for analyzing students’ production of multimodal texts; i.e. written, spoken, visual, sonic, performative and gestural. In making meaning students produce signs in different semiotic modes, using different representational resources.

The method used is multimodal transcription and analysis of digital representations of knowledge. Only digital multimodal texts have been used for analysis.

The study showed that there were changes in how students represent knowledge, and with marked qualitative improvement for several students. A tentative explanation is that new modes of representations of knowledge enable students to show their English proficiency in new and more diverse ways than traditional text and speech.

Keywords: Multimodality, representations of knowledge, multimodal text

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