Enhancing Scientific Visual Literacy in Kindergarten: Young Children 'Read' and Produce Representations of Classification

By Hara Gonitsioti, Vasilia Christidou and Vassilia Hatzinikita.

Published by The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning

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Multimodality, i.e., the use of various semiotic modes and their interconnections to produce different meanings, is a prevalent premise in education. Multimodal texts greatly resort to the use of images, which constitute an autonomous system of meaning-making, with particular codes and “grammar.” Science-related texts are mostly multimodal, since they rely on images as a central rhetoric means for analyzing and understanding scientific phenomena, despite the specialization of the public they are addressed to. Therefore, being able to read science-related multimodal texts and interpreting their visual elements, constitutes a crucial component of scientific literacy. This paper presents outcomes of a pilot study in a kindergarten class, which involved science activities oriented towards enhancing young children’s ability to “read” and produce images representing classifications of different types and functions: timelines, tables, Venn-diagrams, bar graphs, etc. Personal, semi-structured interviews with children, as well as children’s drawings prior to and after implementation of the activities were used to evaluate their emerging competency in using visual representations of classification. Results indicate that most children developed their ability to “read” relatively complex images, and use graphic symbols (e.g., lines, arrows), in order to represent relations between entities and classifications of different forms.

Keywords: Classification, Early Childhood, Science Education, Scientific Competencies, Visual Literacy

The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp.1-15. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 766.763KB).

Hara Gonitsioti

Kindergarten Teacher, PhD Student, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece

Hara Gonitsioti is a kindergarten teacher, holding a master's degree in Education. She is currently a PhD student at the Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Thessaly, Greece. Her research interests involve scientific visual literacy and its development in children.

Dr. Vasilia Christidou

Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Thessaly, Greece

Vasilia Christidou is Professor at the Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Thessaly, Greece. Her research interests include teaching and learning in science, the promotion of Public Understanding of Science, and the process of recontextualization of scientific texts addressed to non-experts. She has coordinated and participated in a number of research projects, and has published numerous research articles and studies in journals, books, and conference proceedings.

Prof. Vassilia Hatzinikita

Professor, School of Humanities, Hellenic Open University, Patra, Achaia, Greece

Professor Vassilia Hatzinikita is currently an academic coordinator of the Master in Education in the Hellenic Open University and a coordinator of Educational Research in Action module. Her research interests concern science teaching and learning as well as the analysis and development of educational materials. She has published a considerable number of research papers in journals, books and conference proceedings and has developed educational material for the Science Education module of the Hellenic Open University.