Multimodal representation and the making of knowledge : a social semiotic excavation of learning sites
This research is concerned with the construction of knowledge as evidenced in the multimodal representations of students. In the spirit of an archaeological excavation it seeks to uncover evidence of that which can not be seen; of learning. It provides systematic classification and analysis of multimodal texts retrieved from secondary school science and history lessons. By conducting this analysis and accounting for the conditions of representation that stimulate learning it also demonstrates the instrumentality of representational activity in the making of knowledge. Applying social semiotic theory to textual artefacts from the two sites, a new methodology is utilised to expose evidence of learning. This methodology is derived from theories of social semiotics (Halliday, 1978 and Hodge and Kress, 1988) and multimodality (Kress and van Leeuwen, 1996). It is based on a conception of learning as a process in which the status and identity of the individual are changed. It is informed by, amongst others, Bernstein (1996) - in relation to the socialising of individuals through systems of education and by Vygotsky (1962) - in relation to the shaping of consciousness. The thesis consists of the description and demonstration of new methods for multimodal analysis of students' representational activity. The technique used for the presentation of data is tracking semiosis and for analysis process charting and mode mapping. Together these methods expose changes arising from the reconfigurations, transformations and transductions undertaken by students engaged in representational activity. In so doing, new directions are offered for the orientation of education practices in the face of rapidly changing patterns of communication. The efficacy of learning in multiple modes is also established and groundwork laid for fresh approaches to assessment.