Learning and Sharing Disciplinary Knowledge: The Role of Representation

1 December 2017
11.00am - 12:30pm

Burwood Corporate Centre

Discuss the different traditions surrounding student learning with Associate Professor John Airey.

Event details

In recent years there has been a large amount of interest in the roles that different representations (graphs, algebra, diagrams, sketches, physical models, gesture, etc.) play in student learning. In the literature two distinct but interrelated ways of thinking about such representations can be identified.

The first tradition draws on the principles of constructivism emphasising that students need to build knowledge for themselves. Here students are encouraged to create their own representations by working with materials of various kinds and it is in this hands-on representational process that students come to develop their understanding.

The second tradition holds that there are a number of paradigmatic ways of representing disciplinary knowledge that have been created and refined over time. These paradigmatic disciplinary representations need to be mastered in order for students to be able to both understand and effectively communicate knowledge within a given discipline.

In this seminar Associate Professor John Airey of Uppsala University, Sweden, opens up a discussion about how these two ways of viewing representations might be brought together. To do this he will first present some of the theoretical and empirical work that has been done in Sweden over the last fifteen years. In particular there are three concepts that he will introduce for discussion: critical constellations of representations, the disciplinary affordance of representations and the pedagogical affordance of representations.

Associate Professor John Airey
John Airey is Reader in Physics Education at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Uppsala University, Sweden. He is also a Senior Lecturer in University Science Education at the Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University, Sweden. John’s research interests focus on disciplinary learning and its relationship to language and other semiotic resources.

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Date and time

Friday 1 December 2017
11.00am -12:30pm


Deakin Burwood Corporate Centre
221 Burwood Highway
Building BC
Burwood, Victoria 3125