Radinsky - C&I 2008

Students' Roles in Group-Work with Visual Data: A Site of Science Learning
Cognition and Instruction, Volume 26, Issue 2 April 2008 , pages 145 - 194

Josh Radinsky

Learning science includes learning to argue with inscriptions: images used to symbolize information persuasively. This study examined sixth-graders learning to invest inscriptions with representational status, in a geographic information system (GIS)-based science investigation. Learning to reason with inscriptions was studied in emergent participation patterns in groups, operationalized as roles. Cross-case analyses compared developmental trajectories for two roles in each group: competitive challenger and quiet bystander. Role development mediated learning to reason with inscriptions, including (1) co-assembling "representational states" of data and (2) managing dialectical tensions of argumentation. Role was operationalized as a site of learning, intersecting individual and collective processes, rather than a mechanism of one impacting another. Distributed conceptions of practice support this approach for understanding how students learn to do science.