Curriculum mapping and instructional affordances.pdf

Semiotics is the study of semiosis or sign action; it can describe any process that includes the production of meaning, whether linguistic or not. Thus semiosis defines the process of making meaning as mediated by signs and the interpretation of
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    T O CITE THIS ARTICLE PLEASE INCLUDE ALL OF THE FOLLOWING DETAILS :   Tochon, Francois Victor and Okten, Celile E., (2010). Curriculum mapping and instructional affordances: Sources of transformation for student teachers. Transnational Curriculum Inquiry  7 (1) http://nitinat.library.ubc.ca/ojs/index.php/tci <access date> Curriculum mapping and instructional affordances: Sources of transformation for student teachers Francois Victor Tochon University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA Celile E. Okten Yildiz Technical University, Turkey Introduction Semiotics is the study of semiosis or sign action; it can describe any process that includes the  production of meaning, whether linguistic or not. Thus semiosis defines the process of making meaning as mediated by signs and the interpretation of those signs. Significantly, teachers’ awareness of semiosis generates metasemiosis, as their engagement in such deep reflection stimulates conceptual reframing, which can be qualified itself as a trans-semiotic  process. From intuiting to perceiving to wording, stages of clarification operate that Charles S. Peirce (1877a) has deciphered and theorized as being inherent to the process of belief confirmation that characterizes scientific inquiry. In a similar manner, intuiting, perceiving and wording curriculum interpretations involves a subtle belief formation that this article aims to explore through hierarchizing and mapping curriculum concepts in teacher education. We are using a Peircean analysis in part due to his work with existential diagrams, making his theories a natural match for concept maps. The next section reinvests these concepts into theorizing the curriculum building process. It will highlight why curriculum mapping can stimulate semiotic inquiry and student teachers’ transformation of knowledge. Curriculum mapping as ontological design Conceptual mapping requires a support for communication, such as an economic organigram,  planning rubric, literary genealogy, geographic representation, anthropological card, systems representation, linguistic tree, semantic structure, cognitive frame, mental model, sociological tree of knowledge. Such visual maps constitute ontologies or conceptual structures that model ‘what is’. When designing such models of reality, then, students are involved in an epistemic process, a way of conceptualizing disciplinary priorities. Therefore conceptual maps are sometimes named epistemic maps. Several excellent and thorough reviews have been published on concept mapping (Brown, 2002; Daley et al., 1999; Danesi, 2002; Gómez et al., 2000; Goodyear et al., 2005; Novak, 1995; Tochon, 1990ab). In this article we explore the semiotic basis for a specific form of educational inquiry based on curriculum mapping, which can stimulate metasemiosis  (Urban, 2006) and make the process transformative. The concept of metasemiosis was alluded to by Thomas Sebeok (2001), John Deely, Susan Petrilli and Augusto Ponzio (1998) and other semiotic scholars who referred to the human as the only ‘metasemiotic animal’, able to generate meaning-making on meaning-making. We want to show that, as a semiotic tool, curriculum concept mapping can initiate a transformative semiosis of semiosis, a process we name trans-semiosis. We define trans-semiosis as the transformation of knowledge that results from the reframing process of metasemiosis. Since trans-semiosis is so closely related with the dialogical understanding of  Tochon & Okten: Curriculum mapping and instructional affordances Transnational Curriculum Inquiry  7 (1) 2010 http://nitinat.library.ubc.ca/ojs/index.php/tci   4 self and the other – and knowledge is not distinct from the semiosis process – it results that trans-semiosis is an identity process. When a student maps her curriculum, she has to organize her intuitive assumptions about what is hierarchically important and visualize it. In a similar way, the reader of a   curriculum map must let hypotheses and assumptions emerge from the visuals. Then through induction the construction of assumptions takes place (Kankkunnen, 2004). Finally, through deduction the meanings of such assumptions are interpreted and knowledge is dynamically designed. Concept mapping has often been interpreted within a classical cognitive framework, a framework that fixes semantic meanings instead of situating the pragmatics of the interpretive flow that characterizes learning trans-semiosis. Peirce had been alerted early about the merits of diagrammatic mapping as a way to support and enhance logical reasoning and represent the Mind (CP 4.582). His ‘existential graphs’, published in 1906 (CP 4.618) had been invented in 1897, as he mentioned, and  probably even earlier. Peirce created rules for reasoning with diagrams as a means of helping experiment with thought and investigate the logical relationships between concepts. Peirce tried to improve his system of concept mapping for more than 20 years and was not really satisfied with his logical, ‘gamma graphs’ at the end of his life. Nonetheless he considered that ‘all necessary reasoning is diagrammatic’ (Draft C, 90-102) that is, any conceptualizing is a mapping process. His purpose was ‘to illustrate the general course of thought: (…) a system of diagrammatization by means of which any course of thought can be represented with exactitude’ (CP 4.530). Each ‘phemic sheet’ would represent a universe of discourse as ‘icons of intelligible relations’ (CP 4.531). Øhrstrom (1997) indicates that diagrammatical reasoning is semiotically very powerful, yet as any representation it can’t be perfect or complete: it provides a viewpoint. Practical reasoning might not follow the rules of mathematical logic or might embody another mathematical field (Menand, 1997): the logic of ‘moving pictures of thought’ (CP 4.8). Since Peirce proposed his existential graphs, much work has been done to develop logical maps that provide precise representations of ways of reasoning and fields of knowledge. Students’ revisiting of their own concept maps makes them aware of differences  between their concepts. Their progress is measured by the degree of relevance of the logical links they established between concepts. Each time they achieve some degree of relevance  between concepts, it contributes to their conceptual progress. Conceptual differentiation initiates in the students a process of integration that allows them to achieve a holistic vision of the scientific field studied (Novak & Cañas, 2006). Such structures make students ascertain what they know about their educational experience. The learner’s structure of understanding becomes precise and clear, which indicates their role in the essentializing, naturalizing process of school meanings. The study of how curriculum knowledge is transformed into something that can be handled in practice provides interesting indications on the interpretation of school notions and genres presented and processes described by the students (Tochon, 2000b). Such maps can be used to observe the initial stages of a learner’s knowledge as well as monitor conceptual changes. Novak & Cañas (2008, p. 180) indicate the links between learning and epistemology: epistemology deals ‘with the nature of knowledge and new knowledge creation’. Learners who struggle to map knowledge are engaged in a creative process. Novak compares concepts and propositions to the atoms of matter and the molecules of matter: they would be the building blocks of knowledge in any subject-matter. Concepts relate with perceived regularities (or patterns) in either events or objects designated by labels. The atomic analogy provides a Platonician perspective as if concepts were abstract universals; however their epistemic dynamics implies that they are in  process and in construction. Curriculum mapping can be a method that makes students  Tochon & Okten: Curriculum mapping and instructional affordances Transnational Curriculum Inquiry  7 (1) 2010 http://nitinat.library.ubc.ca/ojs/index.php/tci   5 acquire ‘a habit of changing habits’ (Kankkunen, 2004, p.1). It allows both students and teachers to evaluate their conceptual development and belief system. Belief systems are the substrates of meanings sedimented by habits that crystallized into knowledge. Peirce’s 1877-1878 articles published in  Popular Science Monthly  propose a semiotic interpretation of beliefs: ‘Our beliefs guide our desires and shape our actions’ (Peirce, 1877 a , III). Beliefs help establish conceptual stability even though they are changeable. Peirce stated that new beliefs are formed in situations of inadequacy and genuine doubt. In a genuine doubt situation, humans struggle to attain a new belief and this process is called ‘inquiry’. In a similar way, curriculum inquiry is led by genuine doubt on the ground of belief cultures. The inquiry process gives opportunities for deeper interaction with a variety of possible meanings, and it furthers the development of understanding. Peirce  proposed four ways of fixing beliefs: tenacity, authority, a priori, and experiment (ibid, 1877 b ). Experimentation was his preferred way to provide negotiation, cooperation, and openness to alternatives. Peirce’s work thus helps provide a framework to understand teacher  beliefs and more generally education.   Experimentations provide teachers ways to investigate and alter their beliefs through abductive reasoning. This process, which is one of the foci of the present study, has a significant impact on teachers’ beliefs and affects their decisions. Genuine revision of prior judgments is a constant process. Moreover when curriculum reasoning is remodeled by (foreign) international standards and their ‘quality imperialism’ (Gough, 2006), the teachers’ inner conversations get ‘complicated’ within cross-cultural regimes of signs (Pinar, 2000), especially in such an internationalized curriculum field as English Language Teaching. In this section, we have indicated that concept mapping research can be extended to subtle processes which imply a transformational understanding of one’s own semiosis. Semiotic curriculum inquiry thus defined can be integrated into teacher education to stimulate the ability of student teachers to reflect on their curriculum knowledge and the meaning making process more broadly. The next section digs into this analytical framework further. Peirce’s analytical framework For Peirce (1931-1958), logic has to be interpreted in its contextual dynamics; the context of an utterance conditions its interpretation. Any interpretable movement, or any thought is a sign (Chandler, 2003). Peirce developed taxonomies to describe how sign meanings emerge from the on-going interpretation of links between form, perception of the context, and  possible meanings produced. His theory is subtle, adaptive and dynamic. Meanings are constructed to form realities, culture, and communication. Peirce’s model of signs depicts the agency components of meaning constructions in the reciprocal movement of signs, objects and interpretants. The sign mediates between the object and its interpretant. The interpretant is the interpretive ‘outcome of the sign which indicates that different signs may reference different aspects of an object, leading to different outcomes or effects. The process of creating the outcome or interpretant is a type of reasoning called abduction’ (Osberg, 1997,  p.27). As deduction and induction are not capable of generating new knowledge, a third inferential process creates hypotheses and instructional guesses: abductive reasoning moves from the interpretive result to the rule to the case (Bopry, 2002). As we move from abduction to deduction, we progress from the simple reconciliation of meaning toward the prescribed  process of selecting the necessary truth (Shank, 1995). The Peircean model characterizes the semiotic process on the basis of three movements of meaning making: firstness, secondness and thirdness. Firstness (or idea-representamen) is associated with qualities that have an  Tochon & Okten: Curriculum mapping and instructional affordances Transnational Curriculum Inquiry  7 (1) 2010 http://nitinat.library.ubc.ca/ojs/index.php/tci   6 iconic relationship with their objects (a photograph, portrait, map, etc.). Secondness (or brute actuality-object) comes in the recognition of ‘the other’. It is the recognition that there is self and not self, and comes into play in the separation of field and ground, given that the nature of secondness is opposition. Firstness involves abduction – which is the spontaneous and direct emergence of meaning – and deals with the person’s qualitative ideas and beliefs. Secondness involves induction through verbal and non-verbal signs that the person already experienced consciously. Thirdness associates firstness and secondness through reasoning and making connections, and it is deductive. Thirdness (or a sign’s soul-interpretant) refers to the use of symbols. A symbol is a form of thirdness (such as waving hands, traffic lights, etc.). The symbol mediates between an object and the interpretant through law or reason. Perception involves semiosis or meaning production on the basis of signs (Allot, 1994). As perception leads to conceptual interpretation, it is directed by the perceiver. It produces continuous change to provide an organizing construction within the perceiver. Semiosis is thus part of the perceptual process. Perception involves the patterns of action in response to the environment dynamics (Umwelt – Deely, 1994). The actions are complementary and interlocked with each other in the structuring of perception. Organizing perceptions are the ground of learning experience and, in turn, education organizes perceptions. According to Cunningham, human semiosis and education are but one and the same thing. ‘If by semiosis we mean the lifelong building of structures of experience, then education is precisely that field which attempts to understand, nurture and make people more reflective about this  process’ (Cunningham, 1987, p.207). Thus educational perception is formed through semiosis. Cunningham (2002) proposes a broad model that details the cognitive process in terms of four components: signs, semiosis, inference, and reflexivity. He defines signs as metaphorical or analogical referents to some aspect, concept and object, or relationship. They are context-sensitive. Individuals develop new ideas and hypotheses through their experiences. The process of conceptualizing the curriculum is inferential. The results of this  process contribute to the perception of knowledge. In Cunningham’s view, reflexivity is the awareness of semiosis. Not all aspects of this rising awareness can be explicit and explicated as some irrupt from intuitions – or, in semiotic terms, abductions. Semiotic theory offers a broad framework to understand such processes through highlighting the nuances of subtle possible progressions between implicit stages and more explicit stages of understanding within perception itself. Peirce devised ten classes of signs as  part of his theory. In the terminology proposed by Merrell (2000), this taxonomy includes: a) Feeling (Peirce’s qualisign ); b) Imaging ( iconic sinsign ); c) Sensing ( rhematic indexical  sinsign ); d) Awaring ( dicent sinsign ); e) Scheming ( iconic legisign ); f) Impressing-saying ( rhematic indexical legisign ); g) Looking (Acknowledging)-Saying ( dicent indexical legisign ); h) Seing (Identifying)-Saying ( rhematic symbol  ); i) Perceiving-Saying ( dicent  symbol or proposition ); and j) Realizing ( argument  ) (MS 540, CP 2.233-72). Shank & Cunningham (1996) derived from Peirce’s taxonomy six distinct modes for abduction, which are sketched out as follows: 1) The Hunch  type of inference opens awareness to the virtual possibility of a possible resemblance: initial observations might serve as intuitive suggestions for possible evidence. 2) Symptoms  would appeal to possible resemblances, comparing properties to be considered, looking for the presence of a more general phenomenon. The detection of a symptom often implies a dependence on prior experience.  Tochon & Okten: Curriculum mapping and instructional affordances Transnational Curriculum Inquiry  7 (1) 2010 http://nitinat.library.ubc.ca/ojs/index.php/tci   7 3) Metaphor or Analogy  manipulates resemblance to create new, potential rules and conceptual frames. 4) The Clue  would lead to the type of inference dealing with possible evidence, a mode of determining whether or not observations are clues of some more general phenomenon. The sign would help detecting the circumstances of a past state of affairs. In order to make a judgment, the observer would look for connections. 5) The Diagnosis or Scenario  forms a possible rule on the basis of available evidence, in order to discover diagnostic judgments amidst observations. Such diagnoses create    plausible scenarios from the cluster of clues. The patterns of clues take on a unity of character. 6) Explanations  concern formal rules to account for puzzling clusters of data and gather scenarios into a coherent explanation that forms the basis for meaningful insight. This model will help us analyzing the capacity of student teachers for ‘suspension of action and deliberation for critical thinking and conscious awareness’ (Petrilli & Ponzio, 2007, p.7). It elicits important aspects of curriculum semiosis that appear as affordances in the process of educational inquiry. The concept of affordance relates with the creation of meaning from the perception of meaningful ‘niches’ within a fluid and dynamic Umwelt  . It refers to ‘the perceived and actual properties of the thing, primarily those fundamental  properties that determine just how the thing could possibly be used’ (Norman, 1988, p.9). It also integrates the understanding that sign meanings are associated with and negotiated within such semiotic niches (Schumann, 2003; Logan & Schumann, 2005; Burgin & Schumann, 2006). ‘A situation provides a suitable niche only for those persons who are  prepared to meet and use its affordances effectively. Those not properly tuned or prepared will in some way fail to perform effectively in the situation as given’ (Snow, 1998, p.107). This leads us to   anticipate that student teachers get attuned to curriculum ‘niches’ through transformative affordances. These niches are locations for knowledge transformation. In this section, we have discussed semiosis, metasemiosis, knowledge emergence and generation processes through three types of reasoning. We have seen how reasoning provides meaning to signs, allowing for interpretations and inferences. The last step, based on the  production of meaning, has been to explore how perception is structured by education on the  basis of experience. For that purpose, we have presented a taxonomy that will help us analyze student teachers’ intentions related to curriculum mapping. Research design In this study, we propose to explicate curriculum mapping as the result of affordances that characterize semiotic inquiry in education. Curriculum as an inquiry process . Semiotic analysis involves a variety of approaches that confer richness and flexibility in the signifying stages of inquiry. In the process by which student teachers conceptualize their curriculum field, transformative semiosis helps deconstruct reality such that its historical and cultural background can be deciphered. The semiotic viewpoint is integrative and encompassing and does not privilege particular stands: it makes individuals and groups self-critical of their own interpretive responsibility and action. The theory of affordances in education – as noted earlier – posits that the perceiver is active in sensing information-rich environments. Humans build a sense of meaningfulness through matching patterns of perception to semiotic niches. Education can be viewed as a
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