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Professionals Read Graphs: A Semiotic Analysis

Wolff-Michael Roth and G. Michael Bowen
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education
Vol. 32, No. 2 (Mar., 2001), pp. 159-194
DOI: 10.2307/749672
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/749672
Page Count: 36
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Professionals Read Graphs: A Semiotic Analysis
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Abstract

Graph-related practices are central to scientific endeavors, and graphing has long been hailed as one of the core "general process skills" that set scientists apart. We use two case studies from a large study among scientists to exemplify our findings that graphing is not a context-independent skill. Rather, scientists' competencies with respect to graph interpretation are highly contextual and are a function of their familiarity with the phenomena to which the graph pertains. If graphing practices are not general but are tied to embodied understandings and familiarity with representation practices, then there are implications for teaching graphing in school mathematics and science settings.

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