Some studies suggest that individuals having completed undergraduate science programs are often poorly prepared to use graphs in ways typical of their disciplines. Science and technology studies have identified competency in graphing as being of central importance to the practice of a scientific discipline. Given the centrality of graphing to the practice of science, an important aspect of becoming enculturated into the practices of a scientific discipline is being able to use and interpret graphs in ways that are typical to that discipline. For example, competency in this usage is important to reading, interpreting and understanding journal articles in a discipline. Undergraduate science students spend a considerable amount of time in lectures where graphical representations play a major role in the presentation of subject matter. To gain an understanding of the use of graphs in lectures and how this use contributes to student understanding, this paper provides a microanalysis of graph use in lectures drawn from artifacts compiled from videotaping all lectures and seminars in a thirteen week ecology course. This analysis focused on both the text and the geestural references made in the reading of a graph in an ecology lecture. We conclude that the common ground existing amongst scientists that help them reach an agreed upon interpretation of a graph is missing from the present lectures and then discuss the constraints this places on students, learning about graphs in lectures.
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Bowen, G.M., Roth, WM. Lecturing graphing: What features of lectures contribute to student difficulties in learning to interpret graph?. Research in Science Education 28, 77–90 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02461643