Developing multimodal communication competencies: A case of disciplinary literacy focus in Singapore
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In science education, there is a growing understanding that learning science involves developing a repertoire of disciplinary-specific literacy skills to engage with the knowledge and practices of the scientific community (Kelly 2008). Such ‘disciplinary literacy’, or the specific ways of talking, reading, writing, doing, and thinking valued and used by the discipline (McConachie et al. 2006; Moje 2007), is central rather than peripheral to the development of scientific understanding (Norris and Phillips 2003). For decades, researchers from multiple disciplines have shed light on the language and discursive features of academic science (Halliday and Martin 1993; Lemke 1990) as well as pioneering various reading and writing strategies to help students master scientific discourse (Hand et al. 1999; Yore and Shymansky 1985). However, in more recent years, there has been increasing attention toward the role of visual, graphical, mathematical, and gestural modes of representation in scientific communication (Kress et al. 2001; Lemke 1998). Research in this area reveals how each mode of representation plays a unique function in representing different aspects of scientific meaning. More studies are also beginning to show how scientific knowledge in specific content consists of a characteristic and recognizable pattern of relationships among multimodal representations
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