Linking semiotics and science education: A theoretical framework for "slowmation" (student-generated animations)
A "Slowmation" (abbreviated from "Slow Animation") is a narrated animation that preservice teachers design and make as a new way to learn about a science concept. It is a simplified form of stop-motion animation that is played at 2 frames/second providing a slow moving image enabling preservice teachers to explain a science concept. Preservice teachers learn how to make one for the first time in a 2-3 hour workshop and then they make their own animation on an allocated topic as an assignment in a science methods course. The theoretical framework for learning from making a slowmation is based upon Peirce's Semiotic Triad (Peirce, 1931), highlighting the interplay between the referent, representation and meaning making when individuals interpret or make a sign. When creating a slowmation, preservice teachers design and make a sequence of five representations, each being a semiotic system, that progressively link in a semiotic chain to produce the animation: (i) Representation 1 - Preparation; (ii) Representation 2 - Storyboard; (iii) Representation 3 - Models; (iv) Representation 4 - Photographs; and (v) Representation 5 - Animation. A case study is provided to show a preservice teacher's perceptions of learning science through creating narrated animation. Siowmation is a new way for preservice teachers to learn science content by making a sequence of five representations as a semiotic chain culminating in the animation as a multimodal representation, however, further research is needed to better understand how each representation influences this learning.
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