Science Technology Engineering Mathematics and Environmental Education Research Group

Re-imagining futures in STEME

Southern Cross University Deans Lecture…. by Russell Tytler

Material and embodied perspectives on STEM learning: Supporting students and teachers

There has been continuing interest in the multimodal nature of learning in science, including the embodied and material nature of scientific epistemic practices central to both discovery processes and classroom learning. This is a refreshing departure from traditional cognitivist approaches which tend to focus on abstract concepts without paying due regard to the semiotic processes central to reasoning and learning. While research into the need for multiple modes as part of the discursive language practices of science, and emerging research into how teachers can support student learning through construction and refinement of multiple representations, there is a lack of attention to exactly how students construct meaning across multi-modal representations, and how teachers can support this. Kress coined the term ‘transduction’ to describe how meaning shifts and is coordinated across modes. In this presentation I will review a number of classroom studies we have conducted into the nature of students’ transduction across modes for learning, for students across the age span 6-12 years. We argue that transduction involves establishing correspondence and coherence across representations. We use Peircean semiotic analysis to describe the fundamental challenges for students, and the ways teachers support these transductive moves to support meaning making. We argue the transduction construct is powerful for opening up fresh insights into the nature of learning in science, and how teachers can support this.


Russell Tytler is Alfred Deakin Professor of Science Education at Deakin University. He researches student reasoning and learning through the multimodal languages of science, socio scientific issues and reasoning, school-community partnerships, and STEM curriculum policy and practice. He is widely published and has led a range of research projects, including current STEM projects investigating a guided inquiry pedagogy for interdisciplinary mathematics and science, and representing contemporary science R&D in schools to support an informed Climate Change Education. He is a member of the Science Expert Group for PISA 2015 and 2025.

Posted Oct 5, 2023

1 November 2023, 1:00pm to