04-04-2024  Thursday

11 January to 25 April, 2024

History of Science

Every Thursday (11:00-13:00)

Venue: Main Building Seminar Room - 217

Coordinator: Dean's Office

Category: Core Course

Instructors: Prof. Ankush Gupta and Dr. Sathish C. G.

Course Day and Time: Thursday (11 AM to 1 PM)

Starting from January 11, 2024


Ph.D. Synopsis Seminar by Mr. Joseph Salve

Date: 04 April, 2024
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Venue: Main Building Lecture Room - G1

Coordinator: Dean's Office


Performative Bundles: How teacher narratives reconfigure academic language, to help students build mental models


Science learning requires students to build new mental models of imperceptible mechanisms (photosynthesis, circadian rhythms, atmospheric pressure, etc.). Since mechanisms are structurally complex and dynamic, building such mental models requires mentally simulating novel structures, their state changes, and higher-order transformations (transpiration, oscillation, liquid levels, etc.). These mental simulations also need to be intertwined with a series of external representations (ERs), including formal terms (stomata, guard cells, mass points, damping, etc.), schematic structures (figures, graphs, etc.), and mathematical notations (equations, vectors, etc.). Students' later encounters with these ERs need to activate the dynamic mental model of the mechanism. Further, these mental models and ERs are embedded in specialised and discipline-specific linguistic forms, called Academic Language (AL), which the students need to learn in parallel. To help learners build these many-layered and dynamic mental models of mechanisms – especially in contexts where access to technology is limited – teachers narrate, and act out, the structures, state changes, transformations, related ERs, and thessociated AL structures. These cohere together to constitute (bring into being) the mechanism models.

In the first study, we present a theoretical account of this complex teaching to build process, using three case study analyses of classroom teaching data (on the teaching of a biology mechanism model). We propose that teaching narratives and AL structures act as 'performative bundles' (PBs), which embed sensorimotor processes, and thus allow students to mentally simulate the target mechanisms. Further, PBs also allow students to associate these dynamic simulations to mechanism terms and AL structures, allowing these mechanism models to be retrieved and manipulated later, in new contexts and situations. This data-driven theoretical account extends and integrates two cognitive science frameworks – the Embodied simulation theory of language (ESTL) and the distributed cognition theory (DC) – and thus presents one of the few cases of education studies contributing back to basic science.

The second study developed an application of the PB theoretical account, to restructure the dominant teaching narrative on the building of a mechanism model in physics (derivation), using an interactive simulation. An experienced physics teacher presented the interactive system to first year master's students. This study extends the PB model to technologically-augmented teacher narratives, and also to the new disciplinary context of physics. Results showed that the new design helped students understand derivations better, and also solve open-ended problems. This results provides support to the PB account. The third study developed a psychology experiment, to delve deeper into the connection between AL and the mental simulation process, and elucidate the nature and dynamics of this connection. Results from this empirical study indicate that academic language structures modulate attention. This process could be one of the possible cognitive mechanisms involved in the way teacher narratives and academic language structure alters student comprehension. We close with some theoretical and pedagogical implications of the PB model and the three studies.