Deakin University
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Teaching About Electricity in Primary School Multimodality and Variation Theory as Analytical Lenses

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-06-01, 00:00 authored by C M Preston, Peter Hubber, Lihua XuLihua Xu
AbstractPrimary school topics involving abstract concepts are challenging to teach. Electric circuits can be simply constructed but complex to explain. New approaches in teaching students for understanding are needed to advance practice in primary science. This paper combines the strengths of multimodality research perspectives with variation theory to provide insights into a teaching sequence designed for year 6 students. Application of a representation construction approach (RCA) provides opportunities for multimodal meaning-making of electric circuits. The case study adopted a design-based research method to investigate teaching electric circuits. Data collection involved video capture of classroom practice, teacher and student interviews, student journal entries and assessment artefacts, field notes, and pre-test and post-test results. Design principles included identifying key ideas, devising a lesson sequence emphasising energy transfer and transformation, hands-on exploration using multimodal representations in response to learning challenges, and student journaling. Students’ metarepresentational competence was also developed through evaluation, negotiation, and creation of representations and models of electric circuits. Representational challenges followed by strategic teacher-led discussion facilitated students’ developing understanding through focusing attention on critical features. Deep learning was evidenced by journal records, formative and summative assessment artefacts, and post-test responses. RCA principles were instrumental in the successful design of an effective teaching sequence through focus on critical aspects of energy. We advocate a RCA for the design of a multimodal learning sequence. Variation theory was a useful analytical framework to understand the enactment of the design sequence. The study contributes to the challenge of rethinking traditional teaching practices in primary science.



Research in Science Education




949 - 973




Berlin, Germany







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal