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Title: Meaning and medium in young children's picture-making
Author: Sakr, Mona
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2013
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Picture-making has a special role in early childhood. It is an activity that bridges the young child’s sensory exploration of the world around them and their later engagement with graphic symbolic practices. Psychological and sociological studies have focused on young children’s pictures as both subjects of and tools in research. Yet these studies have conceptualized picture-making almost exclusively as a practice that occurs on paper using pencils, felt-tip pens or crayons as inscription devices. Despite the increasing presence of screen media in children’s lives, very little research has explored the influence that the screen medium has on picture-making and any similarities and differences that exist between picture-making on paper and on screen. Furthermore, almost no research has examined how key members in the ‘interpretive community’ (Fish, 1980) of early years education conceptualize and construct screen picture-making, or how children enact this activity in the naturalistic environment of the free-flowing early years classroom. The present research addressed these issues using a social semiotic approach in designing and conducting three related studies on screen picture-making. In the first study, 36 children were observed as they made pictures either on paper or on screen. Through the resulting comparisons, various material and social affordances of screen picturemaking were identified as having an influence on the processes and products of picture-making. In order to determine whether these affordances were equally applicable in everyday contexts, an observational study of screen picture-making in the early years classroom was conducted. The findings from that study provided further evidence of the importance of the affordances identified in the previous study, but also demonstrated the extent to which social interactions shape how the activity of screen picture-making is enacted. To explore this further, six practitioners were interviewed about their attitudes towards screen picture-making and the learning it entails. Their responses revealed the relationships between their perceptions of the activity and the way it was implemented and constructed in the classrooms where they work. Collectively, the findings from these studies demonstrate the importance of considering both the material and social aspects of the affordances of the screen medium and how these influence the expression of meaning through picture-making. Four key material properties of screen picture-making were seen to influence how children made pictures: abundance, rapidity, referential rule-breaking, and mouse manipulation. These properties need to be taken into account when determining the opportunities for early years learning presented by screen picture-making. Moreover, the research findings highlight the extent to which the construction of screen picture-making is the work of an ‘interpretive community’ surrounding each child. Thus, screen picture-making in the early years is best thought of as a social project, which unfolds according to the decisions made by those in the classroom. Through understanding the activity in this way, practitioners and children are empowered to discuss and decide how screen picturemaking should be integrated into the early years classroom and what new opportunities it should offer in the expression and construction of meaning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available