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Understanding Starts in the Mesocosm: Conceptual metaphor as a framework for external representations in science teaching


Niebert, Kai; Gropengiesser, Harald (2015). Understanding Starts in the Mesocosm: Conceptual metaphor as a framework for external representations in science teaching. International Journal of Science Education, 37(5-6):903-933.

Abstract

In recent years, researchers have become aware of the experiential grounding of scientific thought. Accordingly, research has shown that metaphorical mappings between experience-based source domains and abstract target domains are omnipresent in everyday and scientific language. The theory of conceptual metaphor explains these findings based on the assumption that understanding is embodied. Embodied understanding arises from recurrent bodily and social experience with our environment. As our perception is adapted to a medium-scale dimension, our embodied conceptions originate from this mesocosmic scale. With respect to this epistemological principle, we distinguish between micro-, meso- and macrocosmic phenomena. We use these insights to analyse how external representations of phenomena in the micro- and macrocosm can foster learning when they (a) address the students’ learning demand by affording a mesocosmic experience or (b) assist reflection on embodied conceptions by representing their image schematic structure. We base our considerations on empirical evidence from teaching experiments on phenomena from the microcosm (microbial growth and signal conduction in neurons) and the macrocosm (greenhouse effect and carbon cycle). We discuss how the theory of conceptual metaphor can inform the development of external representations

Abstract

In recent years, researchers have become aware of the experiential grounding of scientific thought. Accordingly, research has shown that metaphorical mappings between experience-based source domains and abstract target domains are omnipresent in everyday and scientific language. The theory of conceptual metaphor explains these findings based on the assumption that understanding is embodied. Embodied understanding arises from recurrent bodily and social experience with our environment. As our perception is adapted to a medium-scale dimension, our embodied conceptions originate from this mesocosmic scale. With respect to this epistemological principle, we distinguish between micro-, meso- and macrocosmic phenomena. We use these insights to analyse how external representations of phenomena in the micro- and macrocosm can foster learning when they (a) address the students’ learning demand by affording a mesocosmic experience or (b) assist reflection on embodied conceptions by representing their image schematic structure. We base our considerations on empirical evidence from teaching experiments on phenomena from the microcosm (microbial growth and signal conduction in neurons) and the macrocosm (greenhouse effect and carbon cycle). We discuss how the theory of conceptual metaphor can inform the development of external representations

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3 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Language:English
Date:March 2015
Deposited On:13 Jan 2016 13:38
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:54
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0950-0693
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2015.1025310
Related URLs:http://www.tandfonline.com/ (Publisher)

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