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ERIC Number: EJ885379
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 26
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 45
ISSN: ISSN-0270-2711
Toward a Social Practice Perspective on the Work of Reading Inscriptions in Science Texts
Pozzer-Ardenghi, Lilian; Roth, Wolff-Michael
Reading Psychology, v31 n3 p228-253 2010
In the social studies of science, visuals and graphical representations are theorized by means of the concept of inscription, a term that denotes all representations other than text inscribed in some medium including graphs, tables, photographs, and equations. Inscriptions constitute an intrinsic and integral part of scientific practice; their development and the development of science are tightly interwoven. A focus on inscription therefore goes together with the social psychological study of the cultural practices that embed inscriptions. Thus, scientists produce line graphs to convincingly show relationships; they use histograms to show distributions; or they combine multiple graphs to show contrasts or correlations between different entities and contexts. Inscriptions are also present in school science textbooks with great frequency and high school science activities, including teaching, demonstrations, and laboratory tasks. However, to read inscriptions successfully, students need to develop a special kind of literacy that is related to the use of inscriptions, which, in turn, is tied to the way in which these inscriptions are produced within an authentic science environment. The situated and highly contextualized nature of inscriptions renders them meaningful only within and through particular interpretive practices that are developed concomitantly with their production and use in authentic science settings, to which students may not have access in their daily school activities. Moreover, the representational (rhetorical) power of an inscription is related to the amount of information it may carry and to its level of abstractness, which are also proportional to its complexity and, thus, to the difficulty in reading it. In this article, we review the literature on reading inscriptions in science contexts from a social practice perspective as it has by and large emerged during the past two decades. (Contains 5 notes and 7 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A