Reasoning through representations

Document Type

Book Chapter


Springer International Publishing

Place of Publication



Hackling, M. W., Ramseger, J., & Chen, H.-L. S.


School of Education




Originally published as: Tytler, R., Murcia, K., Hsiung, C.-T., & Ramseger, J. (2017). Reasoning through expectations. In M. W. Hackling, J. Ramseger, & H.-L. S. Chen (Eds.), Quality teaching in primary science education: Cross cultural perspectives (pp. 149-179). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. Original chapter available here


Over the last two decades there has been increasing recognition of the central role played by multimodal representational practices as part of the disciplinary literacies through which students reason and learn in science. While there is recognition of the need for teachers to use, interpret and coordinate representational work in science classrooms there has been little research into the specific ways in which such work occurs to support quality learning, or how effective representational practices might be situated within different pedagogical traditions. This Chapter draws on close video ethnographic analysis of astronomy lessons in Australia, Germany and Taiwan, to investigate the representational coordination practices of competent teachers. The sequences were respectively 6, 5 and 15 lessons long, each supported by significant digital and other representational resources. This representational work occurred within very different classroom organisational contexts, with disparate presumptions concerning the roles of teacher and students in constructing knowledge, different emphasis in assessment with Taiwan having a strong tradition of centralised competitive testing, and the greater focus on open group tasks in Australia and Germany. The study aimed to identify whether, within this contextual diversity, there are transcendent principles governing the way representations and models are established and coordinated. The research demonstrated the strategic ways in which the teachers established representational meaning, and used a range of narrative and embodied devices to establish meaning through coordination of sequences of representations.