A cultural-historical perspective on the multimodal development of concepts in science lectures

  • Lilian PozzerEmail author
  • Wolff-Michael Roth
Original Paper


As part of a series of investigations in which we explore the integration of verbal and nonverbal aspects of communication into a dialectical, sense-constitutive unit during science lectures, this study adapts the notions of catchments (i.e., repetitions of essential features of the gesture-speech dialectic) and growth points (i.e., moments in which ideas in the form of a gesture-speech dialectic are born) to analyze, from a multimodal communicative perspective, the articulation and development of scientific concepts in the course of several consecutive lessons dealing with the circulatory system. The presence of catchments and the identification of growth points within and across lessons allow us to understand how scientific concepts are instantiated (i.e., taught) in and during science lectures. The results of our analysis make evident the dialectical relations between the various semiotic resources that are integrated into the communicative unit, helping us elucidate teaching of scientific concepts as a process, a drama in several acts, that unfolds in time and across consecutive lectures.


Multimodality Gestures Dialectics Cultural-historical activity theory Speech activity 



The research project from which this article derives was funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Wolff-Michael Roth. We thank the students for their participation in this project, and we would like to express our gratitude especially to Mr. Burl Jantzen, for his collaboration and interest in this project. We thank Diego M. Ardenghi for helping us with the videotaping and subsequent transcribing of the videotapes. We thank reviewers and journal editors for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript, which helped us improve the article.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Faculty of EducationUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.MacLaurin Building, A567University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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