Research methods for educational semiotics symposium
François Victor Tochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) University of Wisconsin-Madison
Gary Shank (email@example.com) Duquesne University
Semiotics is relevant to Education in two respects: it first can be crucial for a better understanding and exploration of education practices, which may lead to deeper and more meaningful practices; second it can inform deeper ways of researching education as a field for which signs and sign processes are crucial. Semiotics plays a hermeneutic role in highlighting the organizing of and contradictions in discourse and any form of communication, and may offer methodologies that respond to the challenges met by current educational research.
The Symposium will highlight various research methodologies proper to semiotics that support deep investigations into the semiotics of learning, teaching, teacher education, and education at large.
Semiotics brings another message than modern science and has the potential to subsume its binaries. With the understanding that any knowledge implies the fixation of beliefs, the search for meaning is extended to all processes through which humankind evolves toward a better understanding of its humanity. Social inquiry acquires new depth in this complex endeavor that conjugates subtle categories of signs through post-Cartesian reasoning modes. Please join the discussion on Signs & Symbols in Education:
Presenters will have the opportunity to publish their refereed presentations as book chapters in a book focusing on Research Methods For Educational Semiotics, published at Deep University Press:
Keywords: applied semiotics, educational semiotics, edusemiotics, Peirce, Saussure, teaching, learning, teacher education, student teaching, research methodology.
Symposium on Research Methods for Educational Semiotics at the IASS 2014, Sofia
1) François Victor Tochon, University of Wisconsin-Madison
What Semiotics Can Bring to Educational Inquiry
Research methods have much to learn from semiotics. Semiotic inquiry integrates the revisions of its aims. The sense of possible truth gradually develops, from authority towards a sense of what naturally coheres that leads, eventually, to what experience compels us to believe. This last view only establishes a certain sense of truth, independent yet fluid and dynamic rather than fixed and naturalized. Semiotics provides a dynamic point of view rather than a simple method of fixing beliefs. It creates its methodological antidote as it deconstructs its own semiotic process. The aim of semiotic inquiry evolves. It involves a variety of approaches that confer richness and flexibility in the signifying stages of perception, feeling and reasoning. The discovery process creates new languages and changes existing discourses in a transformative semiosis. The lack of integrative knowledge legitimates a paradigmatic revolution in Education through which semiotics may take a leading role.
Dr. Francois Victor Tochon is a Professor in the Departments of Curriculum & Instruction and French & Italian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he headed World Language Education for 6 years. He has a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics/Curriculum & Instruction (Laval) and a Ph.D. in Education (Ottawa), and received Honorary Doctorates or equivalent from two universities. Past President of the Special Interest Group of Semiotics in Education of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and chief editor of the International Journal of Applied Semiotics, he was briefly on the Executive Board of the Semiotic Society of America and is now president of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies.
2) Bai Xue, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Moon and its Cultural Meanings in Chinese Tang Poetry: An Illustration of Metaphoric Inquiry for Deep Education
Danesi once extended the meaning of metaphors to all aspects of the way we think, including world-views, insights, images embedded in discourse, textuality and cultural sense-making. Metaphors are widely used in poems to create imaginary space and aesthetic effects. Western poetry tends to focus on the tension and incompatibility between the tenor (the idea or a thing being the subject of the metaphor) and the vehicle (the comparison used to describe the subject), whereas ancient Chinese poets tend to draw the two terms close through bringing out ontological similarities between the image and universally emotional experiences. The image of moon is widely used in Tang poetry and this paper attempts to analyze how the image of moon expresses the poet’s individual state of mind and meanwhile, represents common emotional experiences in ancient China. More importantly, this paper also explores how Chinese teachers teach the cultural implications of the moon in Tang poetry to foreign students through a metaphorical inquiry into the meanings the moon, further revealing yinyang principle and traditional Chinese moral values, and helping students achieve deep learning of Chinese philosophy on a Tang poetry course.
Biosketch: Bai XUE is doctoral student in World Language Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with Chinese language and literature as her PhD. Minor degree. She gained both her Master degree in Foreign Language Education and her Bachelor degree in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. The topic of her doctoral thesis is about Chinese language teachers’ reflective practices and deep approaches to language teaching. Bai is also interested in semiotics, Tang poetry and Chinese contemporary film studies.
3) Yuan Sang, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Natural Learning Flow Principle in Second Language Writing Research
Marcel Danesi’s (1998) Natural Learning Flow (NLF) principle has two components—Sense Implication Hypothesis (SIH) and Iconicity Hypothesis (IH). They correspond to two stages in human development—cognizing stage and recognizing stage, respectively. This provides educators with a bio-semiotic lens on learners’ development. To illustrate this research methodology, I examined five international Chinese students’ EAL (English as an additional language) academic writing and their perceptions on their work. From the analysis, I explored a way to use the NLF principle to decide learners’ semiotic capacity in order to come up with further learning tasks as part of the curriculum for each of them. Further research should try the designed learning tasks back on them and assess if the tasks are effective in improving students’ semiotic capacity. More students need to be involved to enlarge the practical use of the bio-semiotic curriculum.
Ms. Yuan Sang is a doctoral student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Shanghai Normal University. She also holds her B.E. degree in Polymer Materials and Engineering from East-China University of Science and Technology. Her current research interests include teaching and learning English / Chinese as an additional language, intercultural communication in academic writing, and pragmatic use of an additional language.
4) Jennifer Gray, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Beloit College
Deciphering the Semiotic Aspects of Learning to Teach
According to Fairclough (2011), “social practices such as teaching and learning are mediated by structures and events are networked in particular ways through orders of discourse” (p. 119). These orders of discourse or “ways of interacting”, “ways of representing” and “ways of being” are comprised of genres, discourses and styles.” This presentation explores the semiotic aspects of social transformation and the participants learning to become teachers and develops the methodological characteristics of such a semiotic endeavor. The experiences of native and non-native novice teacher’s is examined in the context of American foreign language (FL) teaching at a large U.S. research university. Learning is social (Gee, 1999; Wenger, 1999). It is through the act of learning that one constructs their “identity in practice” (Lave, 1996). Identities practiced in such communities are always in progress and are shaped by individual and collective efforts to create a coherence through participation in varied social contexts (Lewis and Ketter 2011). The dialogic nature of this study, created a situation where participants used language to reify and reshape over time their community and personal teaching beliefs. The purpose of the yearlong study focused not only on issues related to the teaching of a Romance language, but also on individual and collective assumptions about race, identity, gender and sexuality in terms of how these assumptions shaped beliefs and approaches used in the classroom.
Jennifer Gray is a Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and French at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is currently a French instructor at Beloit College and an ESL instructor at Madison English as a Second Language School (MESLS).
5) Alon Andrews, University of Wisconsin-Madison
What is an Image? Observational Writing and Drawing as Orientation In Out of School Contexts
“Memory work performs necessary linkages between social relations and the socio-historical self… If we allow ourselves to subject our own past to dispassionate scrutiny, we may perhaps be able to effect some change in the present (Haug, 1987). Derived from a specific strain of writing and drawing practices developed by acclaimed artist and Professor Lynda Barry, this presentation invites the intersection of semiotic representation and socio-cognitive theories to find deep language in the visual arts. Situated within the socio-cultural context of “out of school spaces” the author proposes to describe a unique set of creative techniques rooted in observation and interpretation, as an opportunity to record a version of what Cole describes as tertiary artifacts, or records that are fundamental to the constitution of culture, almost as the skeleton that can hold up some natural order. (Cole, 1996) Maybe the educational paradigm is slightly askew. Perhaps our everyday experiences are where a lot of the work should be done to inform teaching and learning in the academic space, not necessarily the other way around.
Alon Andrews is a Doctoral Student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the department of Curriculum and Instruction. His areas of interest are digital media and literacy studies with a concentration in ethnography and arts-based research methodologies. Alon has worked with underserved youth populations for over 10 years, providing platform for individualized learning opportunities in various creative production mediums such as: video, photography, creative writing, drawing, sculpture, poetry. His current research looks at how to upgrade and implement educational art-based learning spaces to include a more immersive and holistic production process that values the educational worth inherent in creative practices that involve representation, performance, identity, critique.
As of April 27, 2014
6) Michael Kay Allred, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Reflections on Subjective Knowledge and the Importance of Semiotics in Autoethnography
The gradual acceptance of autoethnography and other forms of research that give primacy to more subjective, intuitive forms of knowledge in academic circles has led to a recent explosion in their popularity. For that reason, there remains much to be seen in the potential of autoethnography as a research method and way of presenting this knowledge. Research in semiotics has dealt with key issues in academic inquiry such as the tension between subjectivity and objectivity as well as the origin of research paradigms and their role in the formation of onto-epistemologies. In other words, semiotic research has made large contributions to understanding the nature of academic knowledge, how it is obtained, and its validity. As autoethnography cannot and should not rely on traditional, scientific notions of rigor, semiotic research in the aforementioned areas and others is necessary in the continued evolution of autoethnography in terms of mining, deciphering, and presenting subjective knowledge and working through methodological and analytic issues in a more intuitive form of research.
Biosketch: Michael Kay Allred is a PhD candidate in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in World Language Education. His research interests include heritage language education, holistic approaches to world language education situated around culture and intercultural communication, and autoethnography. His dissertation is an autoethnographic account of his experiences studying his heritage language, Japanese.
7) Polyxeni Manoli & Maria Papadopoulou, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece
Young children accessing multimodal texts: A case study
The study focusing on visual literacy aimed to explore whether young children, who did not have formal reading skills, could speculate the linguistic message depicted in contemporary multimodal texts based on information provided in various modes (such as, colour, typography or images). The contribution of each mode to the meaning-making process was investigated as well. A further aim of the study was to probe into students’ answers in relation to their age. The sample of the study consisted of 45 young children; 26 of them were infants and 19 were preschoolers. The basic tool used in the research was a matching exercise derived from an illustrated book intended for young children. Semi-structured individual interviews were used for the data collection, which were tape-recorded and, later on, were transcribed and processed. The results of the study indicated that the majority of the children were able to guess the linguistic content of the visual elements drawing on the information provided by various modes. It was revealed that colour and typography played a critical role in helping students match the linguistic elements with the visual ones. Regarding the age variable, it was found that the group of the older children seemed to perform better than the younger ones but the difference was not found to be statistically significant. At the same time, the results highlighted the fact that children at this age tend to rely more on visual cues when approaching written texts. The study pointed out the need for educators to extend the limits of the semantic field of literacy beyond language texts in order to allow for multimodal texts, as nowadays, students, even from an early age, are exposed to an increasing dominance of multimodal texts -both print and digital texts- that involve a complex interplay of linguistic elements, visual images, graphics, and design elements.
Keywords: Semiotic modes, Visual Literacy, Multimodal Texts, Preschoolers
The value of education in international organizations' advertisements: A visual semiotics-based mixed method research.
This research studies the meaning structures of international organizations’ objectives on how education is defined and it makes connections and correlations about the way in which education’s objectives and vision are promoted through images. We examine how international organizations treat the objectives of culture and education as vehicles for values in the pictures and texts of their advertisements. By means of a mixed research method combining socio-semiotics, multimodality and visual methodologies, we focus on exploring the vision for education, as this is shown on international organizations advertisements. We approach the advertisements as social artifacts, in the form of multimodal texts, where the investigation of their social meaning involves the juxtaposition of their semiotic elements on the same interface. We direct our analysis towards a critical visual methodology where images are taken seriously, their social conditions and effects are addressed, and viewer's reflexivity is promoted. This mixed method facilitates the exploration of the diverse ideological representation of education in international organizations’ advertisements.
Dr. George Damaskinidis is a Teaching Assistant in educational research methodology, semiotics and visual literacy and Dr. Anastasia Christodoulou is an Associate Professor in Semiotics, at the Department of Italian Language and Literature, in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
9) Diana Marcela Pedraza Díaz, Maestría en semiótica, Universidad industrial de Santander
AXIOLOGÍAS PRESENTES EN LA CONCEPCIÓN DE EDUCACIÓN FORMAL Y ESCUELA EN EDUCANDOS DE COLEGIOS PRIVADO CATÓLICOS DE BUCARAMANGA (COLOMBIA)
Este trabajo constituye un reporte parcial del proyecto de investigación “representaciones en estudiantes de colegios privado católicos del área metropolitana (Santander-Colombia) sobre la educación formal y la escuela”. En esta medida, la propuesta da cuenta de los resultados obtenidos frente a la necesidad de identificar y comprender, en una fase inicial, las axiologías involucradas en los conceptos de educación formal y escuela que han elaborado desde la personal experiencia escolar los estudiantes en las instituciones privadas católicas de Bucaramanga y que actualmente están influyendo en el ser, pensar, convivir y hasta actuar de los jóvenes, dentro y fuera de las aulas en una cultura educativa específica como la confesional (católica).
Justamente, el interés de esta investigación se centra en reconocer, desde una perspectiva semiótica, cómo los intereses específicos del proyecto educativo católico configuran el universo simbólico, la percepción del entorno y las acciones en el mundo de la vida de los actores involucrados, que según Lotman permite estudios meta-representativos (esquemas semióticos), a la luz de la pregunta: ¿Cuáles son las axiologías presentes en los conceptos de educación formal y escuela construidos desde la experiencia escolar de los estudiantes de colegios católicos en Bucaramanga?
Estas experiencias enunciadas constituyen un discurso en que se expresan valoraciones sobre la institución escolar y las consecuentes decisiones del sujeto para actuar en el mundo. Por lo que partiendo de los discursos de los estudiantes se analizan, desde una perspectiva semiótica, las axiologías que tienen los estudiantes sobre la educación formal y la escuela católica, según textos construidos durante el año 2014.
En este sentido, se estudian las significaciones expresadas en el discurso de los estudiantes a través de un método cualitativo-interpretativo con enfoque etnosemiótico, donde las entrevistas y los grupos focales, permitirán el acopio de los datos discursivos. De esta manera, se establecerá cuáles son las axiologías de educación formal y escuela que hoy inciden en las valoraciones y actuaciones de los educados en un ambiente regido por los principios de una educación concebida desde la religión (desde el catolicismo).
Con esta investigación espero en primer lugar encontrar respuesta a la situación problémica que sobre las axiologías presentes en las concepciones de educación formal y escuela me he planteado desde la perspectiva de los estudiantes, pues, es necesario dar una visión explicita desde el análisis y la teoría semiótica sobre la carga valorativa de los fenómenos de la cultural que son particulares y que aún no se han abordado completamente desde las diversas investigaciones de otras disciplinas en el campo pedagógico. De igual manera, se aspira afianzar la relación teórico-práctica entre semiótica y educación, con el fin de mostrar cómo esta ciencia puede dar luces innovadoras a la reflexión educativa y cualificar sus principios y postulados.
 LOTMAN, I. La semiosfera II: Cerebro, texto, cultura, inteligencia artificial. Madrid: Ediciones cátedra.1998. p. 13.
10) Yuly Andrea Rojas Gamboa2 Yulithza28@hotmail.com
ANÁLISIS SEMIÓTICO DE LOS SISTEMAS AXIOLÓGICOS DE LAS CONCEPCIONES DE LA EVALUACIÓN DE LA LECTURA DE DOCENTES DE TALLER DE LENGUAJE DE LA UNIVERSIDAD INDUSTRIAL DE SANTANDER -UIS-, COLOMBIA1
Ante los escasos estudios que se desarrollan sobre el tema de la evaluación de la lectura,
surgió la propuesta basada en la siguiente pregunta: ¿Cuáles son los sistemas axiológicos sobre la evaluación de la lectura de docente de la Universidad Industrial de Santander? Para lo cual se planteó como objetivo general describir los sistemas axiológicos de las con- cepciones de la evaluación de la lectura, mediante modelos semióticos, de acuerdo a los discursos de los docentes de Taller de Lenguaje que trabajan en el periodo 2014 en la UIS. Frente a esto se tuvo como objetivos específicos: a) establecer las figuras y los recorridos narrativos y actanciales presentes en los discursos de los docentes acerca de lo que ellos describen como la evaluación de la lectura, b) analizar los sistemas axiológicos de la eva- luación de la lectura a partir de las figuras y los recorridos narrativos y actanciales de acuerdo a los discursos de los docentes, y c) identificar los sistemas de valores sobre la evaluación de la lectura según lo expresado por los docentes.
Por tanto, la metodología implementada por este estudio corresponde a la del paradigma cualitativo- interpretativo que tuvo como enfoque el Etnosemiótico. En este sentido, para la recopilación de los datos se recurrió a las herramientas de la Etnografía, específicamen- te, en la realización de entrevistas3; y para el análisis de la información se requirió a la Se
1 El presente trabajo fue uno de los resultados de la investigación Análisis semiótico de concepciones y de prácticas de evaluación de la lectura de profesores de Taller de Lenguaje de la Universidad Industrial De Santander –UIS- que se está desarrollando recientemente con participación del grupo CUYNACO y la Maestría en Semiótica de la UIS.
2 Licenciada en Educación Básica con énfasis en Lengua Castellana. Actualmente es estudiante de la Maestría en Semiótica y docente cátedra de Taller de Lenguaje de la Universidad Industrial de Santander, Bucaramanga: Colombia.
3 Es importante resaltar que los datos de los informantes son confidenciales y protegidos por el Comité de Ética en Investigación Científica (CEINCI) de la UIS.