Multimodality and new materialism in science learning: Exploring insights from an introductory physics lesson
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Science disciplines are inherently multimodal, involving written and spoken language, bodily gestures, symbols, diagrams, sketches, simulation and mathematical formalism. Studies have shown that explicit multimodal teaching approaches foster enhanced access to science disciplines. We examine multimodal classroom practices in a physics extended curriculum programme (ECP) through the lens of new materialism. As De Freitas and Sinclair note in their book,Mathematics and the Body, there is growing research interest in embodiment in mathematics (and science) education—that is, the role played by students’ bodies, in terms of gestures, verbalisation, diagrams and their relation to the physical objects with which they interact. Embodiment can be viewed from a range of theoretical perspectives (for example, cognitive, phenomemological, or social semiotic). However, they argue that their new materialist approach, which they term “inclusive materialism”, has the potential for framing more socially just pedagogies.In this article, we discuss a multimodal and new materialist analysis of a lesson vignette from a first-year extended curriculum physics course.