Characterising a representation construction pedagogy for integrating science and mathematics in the primary school

Abstract

Growing research evidence indicates student learning gains from guided representation construction/invention in school science and mathematics. In this inquiry approach, students address challenges around what features of a phenomenon/problem to attend to, what data to collect, how and why, and make collective judgments about multimodal accounts of phenomena. However, researchers to date have tended to focus on student learning rather than on the teacher’s role in guiding various phases of inquiry. In this paper we report on: a) analysis of Grade 1 students’ engagement in interdisciplinary mathematics and science inquiry practices in a classroom sequence in ecology; b) the teacher’s role in guiding such inquiry; and c) interpretation of these practices in terms of support of student transduction (connecting and remaking meanings across representations in different modes). Data from our study included video capture of two case-study teachers’ guidance of tasks and classroom discussion, and student artefacts. We examine the classroom processes through which the teachers used students’ invention and revision of data displays to teach the concepts of living things, diversity, distribution and adaptive features related to habitat in science. Mathematical processes included constructing and interpreting mapping, measurement and data modelling, sampling, and using a scale. The analysis offers fresh insights into how teachers support student learning in these two subjects, through discrete stages of orienting, representation challenge, building consensus, and applying and extending representational systems.