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Conceptual metaphors in learning and teaching entropy: adopting a cognitive semantic approach in science education research
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Learning, Aesthetics, Natural science. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Over the last 20 years there has been an extensive amount of research on science learning conducted from a “knowledge-in-pieces” or “resources” perspective. One of the main goals of that research has been to identify and characterize available cognitive knowledge resources that can be productive components of scientific understanding. In relation to characterizing available knowledge resources, the research, adopting the resource perspective, has focused on finding out and describing the continuity between the novice/learner and expert in various scientific domains. However, even though there exists an extensive amount of studies with a clear focus on characterizing available cognitive knowledge resources, research with a special focus on the role of language in relation to thermodynamics adopting a resource perspective is limited. In this thesis, on the one hand I describe challenges that can be related to language and, on the other hand, I identify possible available resources in the form of conceptual metaphors. Based on the results from the first two papers included in this thesis I show, among other things, the ambiguity of the physical concept of entropy. Furthermore, the result of paper two also highlights that there is an ambiguity in the words used as source domain words for metaphors that include entropy. For instance, source domain words such as ‘disorder’ in the metaphor ‘entropy is disorder’ turn out not to be as unambiguous as one might first think. In addition, in papers three and four, I highlight how very experienced people construe entropy in both written text and in a problem-solving situation based on textbook analyses and interviews. The included texts for analyses, in paper three, represented university textbooks on introductory physics, chemistry and statistical mechanics. In addition, all the texts covered macroscopic and microscopic accounts (as well as links between the two) of thermodynamics. The results from the text book analyses show that there is a systematic difference between the conceptual metaphors used for macroscopic and microscopic descriptions. In addition, the largest number of conceptual metaphors was identified at the macroscopic level. The problem-solving situation, in paper four, was structured around three thermodynamic problems where two PhD students worked together in pairs while they solved the three tasks. In addition, the problem-solving situation was captured by use of audio and video recordings. From the problem-solving situation I show, among other things, that a single conceptual metaphor was used in a sustained way to ground reasoning and, in addition, a number of conceptual metaphors were coordinated with each other and with other symbolic forms in a coherent way. In sum, the results of this thesis indicate that adopting tools from other disciplines, such as cognitive linguistics, may contribute to the field of science education.

Abstract [sv]

Under de senaste 20 åren har det skett en omfattande mängd naturvetenskaplig didaktisk forskning utifrån ett kognitivt resurs perspektiv. Ett av målen med denna forskning är att identifiera och karakterisera tillgängliga kognitiva kunskapsresurser som kan vara en del av en vetenskaplig förståelse. Forskningen har fokuserat på att beskriva kontinuiteten mellan novisen/studenten och experten inom några vetenskapliga discipliner. Forskning med särskilt fokus på språkets roll och betydelse i förhållande till termodynamik utifrån ett resurs perspektiv är begränsad. I denna avhandling behandlas språkliga utmaningar och tillgängliga kunskapsresurser i form av ”conceptual metaphors” (begreppsliga metaforer) inom ramen för lärande om termodynamik. Resultaten från de två första artiklarna i denna avhandling visar på mångtydigheten av det fysikaliska begreppet entropi. Resultatet i den andra artikeln visar att det även finns en tvetydighet av ord i käll/bas-domänen för metaforer med avsikt att belysa entropibegreppet. Exempelvis, i metaforen ’entropi är oordning’ visar det sig att ordet oordning i käll/bas-domänen inte är så entydigt som man i ett förste skede kanske tror. Artikel tre är en läroboksanalys av universitetslitteratur med fokus på entropi inom fysik, kemi och biologi. Gemensamt för alla tre texterna i läroboksanalysen var att de behandlade termodynamik utifrån både ett makroskopisk och ett mikroskopiskt perspektiv och även en länk mellan de båda perspektiven. Resultaten från läroboksanalysen visar att det finns en systematisk skillnad mellan begreppsliga metaforer som används för makroskopiska och mikroskopiska beskrivningar. Det flesta begreppsliga metaforerna identifierades på den makroskopiska nivån. Den fjärde artikeln handlar om två doktoranders gemensamma lösning av tre termodynamiska problem. Dokumentationen skedde genom video och ljudupptagning. Analysen av data visar bland annat att en enskild begreppslig metafor användes på ett konsekvent och adekvat sätt där ett antal begreppsliga metaforer koordineras med varandra och fysikaliska symboler på koherent sätt. Sammanfattningsvis visar resultaten i denna avhandling att verktyg från kognitiv lingvistik kan bidra till naturvetenskaplig didaktisk forskning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. , 64 p.
Series
Studies in Science and Technology Education, ISSN 1652-5051 ; 61
Keyword [en]
Science education, thermodynamics, semantics, conceptual metaphors
Keyword [sv]
Naturvetenskapernas didaktik, termodynamik, entropi, semantik, begreppsliga metaforer
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-85663ISBN: 978-91-7519-765-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-85663DiVA: diva2:572422
Public defence
2012-12-07, K2, Kåkenhus, Campus Norrköping, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-11-27 Created: 2012-11-27 Last updated: 2012-11-27Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Different Senses of Entropy-Implications for Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Different Senses of Entropy-Implications for Education
2010 (English)In: ENTROPY, ISSN 1099-4300, Vol. 12, no 3, 490-515 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A challenge in the teaching of entropy is that the word has several different senses, which may provide an obstacle for communication. This study identifies five distinct senses of the word entropy, using the Principled Polysemy approach from the field of linguistics. A semantic network is developed of how the senses are related, using text excerpts from dictionaries, text books and text corpora. Educational challenges such as the existence of several formal senses of entropy and the intermediary position of entropy as disorder along the formal/non-formal scale are presented using a two-Dimensional Semiotic/semantic Analysing Schema (2-D SAS).

Keyword
science education, thermodynamics, entropy, semantics, cognitive linguistics, polysemy
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-54783 (URN)10.3390/e12030490 (DOI)000275934000012 ()
Available from: 2010-04-09 Created: 2010-04-09 Last updated: 2014-09-25
2. Exploiting languages in teaching of entropy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploiting languages in teaching of entropy
2011 (English)In: Journal of Baltic Science Education, ISSN 1648-3898, E-ISSN 2538-7138, Vol. 10, no 1, 27-35 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The words disorder, information, freedom and spreading are used as metaphors and analogies in science teaching to capture the scientific qualitative sense of entropy. In addition, the identification of entropy with the everyday conception of heat has been proposed. While physical sciences are regarded as exact disciplines, in which terms have precise definitions, the words being used in the qualitative interpretation of entropy have many senses. This may provide an obstacle to achieving a scientific understanding of entropy. In this study, the metaphors for entropy and seeing entropy as heat were analysed by use of the different entries for the words in a dictionary. The present paper is a contribution to highlighting the importance of making any metaphors and analogies and their benefits and limitations explicit.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lithuania: Scientific Methodical Center ”Scientia Educologica”, 2011
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68343 (URN)000289845300004 ()
Available from: 2011-05-20 Created: 2011-05-20 Last updated: 2017-12-11
3. Arrow of time: Metaphorical construals of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Arrow of time: Metaphorical construals of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics
2012 (English)In: Science Education, ISSN 0036-8326, E-ISSN 1098-237X, ISSN 1098-237X, Vol. 5, no 96, 818-848 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Various features of scientific discourse have been characterized in the science education literature, and challenges students face in appropriating these features have been explored. Using the framework of conceptual metaphor, this paper sought to identify explicit and implicit metaphors in pedagogical texts dealing with the concept of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics, an abstract and challenging domain for learners. Three university-level textbooks were analyzed from a conceptual metaphor perspective, and a range of explicit and implicit metaphors were identified. Explicit metaphors identified include entropy as disorder, thermodynamics processes as movements along a path, and energetic exchange as financial transactions among others. Implicit metaphors include application and elaboration of the generic Location Event Structure metaphor, application of the Object Event Structure metaphor, and others. The similarities and differences between explicit and implicit metaphors found in the textbooks are also described. Two key pedagogical implications are discussed: that the selection of explicit instructional metaphors can be guided by consistency with implicit metaphors; and that the range of implicit metaphors found in pedagogical texts implies that a multiple instructional metaphor strategy is warranted. The depth of the phenomenon of conceptual metaphor and its implications for future research are also discussed

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2012
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-79912 (URN)10.1002/sce.21015 (DOI)000307392600005 ()
Available from: 2012-08-15 Created: 2012-08-15 Last updated: 2017-12-07
4. Exploring the Use of Conceptual Metaphors in Solving Problems on Entropy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring the Use of Conceptual Metaphors in Solving Problems on Entropy
2013 (English)In: The Journal of the learning sciences, ISSN 1050-8406, E-ISSN 1532-7809, Vol. 22, no 1, 70-120 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A growing body of research has examined the experiential grounding of scientific thought and the role of experiential intuitive knowledge in science learning. Meanwhile, research in cognitive linguistics has identified many conceptual metaphors (CMs), metaphorical mappings between abstract concepts and experiential source domains, implicit in everyday and scientific language. However, the contributions of CMs to scientific understanding and reasoning are still not clear. This study explores the roles that CMs play in scientific problem-solving through a detailed analysis of two physical chemistry PhD students solving problems on entropy. We report evidence in support of three claims: a range of CMs are used in problem-solving enabling flexible, experiential construals of abstract scientific concepts; CMs are coordinated with one another and other resources supporting the alignment of qualitative and quantitative reasoning; use of CMs grounds abstract reasoning in a “narrative” discourse incorporating conceptions of paths, agents, and movement. We conclude that CMs should be added to the set of intuitive resources others have suggested contribute to expertise in science. This proposal is consistent with two assumptions: that cognition is embodiment and that internal cognitive structures and processes interact with semiotic systems. The implications of the findings for learning and instruction are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2013
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-79910 (URN)10.1080/10508406.2012.691926 (DOI)000312584600005 ()
Available from: 2012-08-15 Created: 2012-08-15 Last updated: 2017-12-07

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