Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 173–191 | Cite as

Situated meaning-making of the human body: a study of elementary school children’s reasons in two different activities

  • Mattias Lundin
  • Britt Jakobson


In this text we compare children’s expressions in drawings to their statements during interviews, for the purpose of understanding how different situations afford children to make meaning. In specific we study how two different activities interact and afford children to make meaning differently about the human body. The analytic attention is drawn to the meaning-making the children made as they in pairs were asked to explain the body drawings that they did prior to the interviews. Meaning-making was studied by using a practical epistemology analysis, an analysis facilitating understanding of how relations are established in a developing conversation, and more generally providing understanding from a child perspective. The results indicate that several reasons are at hand for children in the two different situations; namely, social, artistic, practical, empirical and memory reasons are identified. Social reasons refer to statements belonging to the social context and items that were described as inappropriate to express. Artistic reasons were interpreted from aesthetic judgements, referring to the artistic quality of the drawing. Practical reasons were given in situations where children expressed, for example, that the space limited their opportunities to draw. Empirical reasons are built on children’s statements referring to picture items that are identified by pointing or touching their own body. Memory reasons are involved in all the situations where children explained items were previously omitted, because the body part had been temporarily forgotten. Furthermore, we suggest that children interpret situational aspects and make judgements concerning the relevance of their different reasons. By these means we hope to facilitate children’s understanding of interview questions and also to improve researchers’ understanding of children’s ability to grasp relevant details prior to their response (or participation).


Situated meaning-making PEA Human body Drawings Interviews 



We wish to thank our helpful colleagues and reviewers for comments on drafts of this text. Special thanks to Monika Borgö for your important contribution.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationLinnaeus UniversityKalmarSweden
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics and Science EducationStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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