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ERIC Number: EJ1292803
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2021-Feb
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0157-244X
Discourse Analysis in Integrated STEM Activities: Methods for Examining Power and Positioning in Small Group Interactions
Integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is becoming increasingly common in K-12 classrooms, and small group activities are ubiquitous to STEM instruction. This article includes both theoretical and practical descriptions of a microethnographic approach to critical multimodal discourse analysis that we used to explore power and positioning within a mixed-gender group of students working together on an engineering design challenge. We drew upon social semiotics, positioning theory, and activity theory to ground this work and utilized three phases of data analysis: microethnography to develop individual and group storylines, critical multimodal discourse analysis of key events, and the integration of storylines and discourse analysis. This multi-phase approach granted us insights into our data that would have otherwise been lacking. Microethnography revealed the significance of the shift between science and engineering activities in relation to power and positioning within the group. Multimodal analysis revealed that the introduction of new physical artifacts influenced power and positioning within the small group, with different modes of communication having different intensities across the unit. We argue that our approach is useful in analyzing complex small group interactions within science classrooms and highlight key methodological decisions for researchers interested in employing a microethnographic approach to critical multimodal discourse analysis.
Springer. Available from: Springer Nature. One New York Plaza, Suite 4600, New York, NY 10004. Tel: 800-777-4643; Tel: 212-460-1500; Fax: 212-460-1700; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Elementary Education; Kindergarten; Primary Education; Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: 00039202|DRL1238140