Workshop 3

Tuesday, July, 2

(total duration: 3h30m)
Professor J R Martin
(University of Sydney, Australia)
Professor Susan Hood
(University of Sydney, Australia)

Condensing meaning: Imagic aggregations in science

In this Pre-conference institute we address the challenge of interpreting and teaching complex infographics of the kind read and viewed in secondary school science in Australia – drawing on the resources of language, paralanguage and image. Inspired by the work of Bateman and his colleagues we adopt a complementary bottom-up and top-down perspective – analysing infographics bottom-up in terms of general gestalt grouping principles (for both micro- and macro-groups) and interpreting images top-down with respect to abductions based on SFL modelling of the relevant field (as activity, item and property). We then compared two infographics in detail, considering how mitosis is intermodally construed as activity and composition in verbiage and image. The key finding arising from this analysis was that in spite of the complexity of the infographics, considerable information had to be abduced, drawing on additional knowledge of the field – information that the co-text in the textbooks accompanying these infographics did not make explicit. This highlights the importance of multimodal literacy pedagogy as a crucial part of science education. We show how such a pedagogy can address the complex infographics in conjunction with incorporation of a supporting co-text. In this kind of carefully scaffolded context the synoptic view of complex knowledge aggregation provided by infographics can be play a significant role in knowledge building. We go on to develop this analysis by considering the role played by paralanguage in multimodal pedagogy, focusing on tertiary science lectures.