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Towards an Analysis of Visual Images in School Science Textbooks and Press Articles about Science and Technology

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This paper aims at presenting the application of a grid for the analysis of the pedagogic functions of visual images included in school science textbooks and daily press articles about science and technology. The analysis is made using the dimensions of content specialisation (classification) and social-pedagogic relationships (framing) promoted by the images as well as the elaboration and abstraction of the corresponding visual code (formality), thus combining pedagogical and socio-semiotic perspectives. The grid is applied to the analysis of 2819 visual images collected from school science textbooks and another 1630 visual images additionally collected from the press. The results show that the science textbooks in comparison to the press material: a) use ten times more images, b) use more images so as to familiarise their readers with the specialised techno-scientific content and codes, and c) tend to create a sense of higher empowerment for their readers by using the visual mode. Furthermore, as the educational level of the school science textbooks (i.e., from primary to lower secondary level) rises, the content specialisation projected by the visual images and the elaboration and abstraction of the corresponding visual code also increases. The above results have implications for the terms and conditions for the effective exploitation of visual material as the educational level rises as well as for the effective incorporation of visual images from press material into science classes.

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Dimopoulos, K., Koulaidis, V. & Sklaveniti, S. Towards an Analysis of Visual Images in School Science Textbooks and Press Articles about Science and Technology. Research in Science Education 33, 189–216 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025006310503

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  • classification
  • formality
  • framing
  • press articles
  • school science textbooks
  • visual images