My research has been particularly influenced by the following people.
Charles Sander Peirce (1839 - 1914) the American philosopher who was one of the co-founders
of the subject we now call semiotics, the other being Ferdinand de Saussure (1857
- 1913 ) the German born, Swiss linguist;
Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (1896 - 1934 ) the Soviet psychologist , who did ground breaking
work in constructivist learning theory;
David Joseph Bohm (1917 - 1992) the American theoretical physicist and philosopher
who considered that perception was dependent on continuous abstraction.
Constructivist learning and Pedagogical Content Kowledge (PCK)
Like me there are many teachers who are convinced that it is impossible to simply
and directly transfer our understanding of a subject to students. Although we might
come to agree on some knowledge, we each construct our own model of our world. However,
the question arises as to the role the teacher plays in the learning process. I've
spent most of my working life trying to figure out some of the possible answers to
In my doctorate I tried to model the so-called pedagogical content knowledge (PCK)
of a physics teacher. This knowledge goes beyond the subject itself to include knowledge
of how best to put such ideas across to students. I focused on trying to understand
how the physics teacher (and hence science or mathematics teacher) might structure
their conceptual understanding and represet it for sstudents.
My work moved me to attempt to understand how science teachers visually represent
their knowledge for students to learn from. This led me to a fascination for the
role played by signs and symbols in representing concepts in our everyday life.
When computer hardware and software became more affordable to schools and universities
it became possible to consider the use of such technology in helping in the learning
process. With the development of the Internet and mobile devices this technological
experiment continued. However, some people may foolishly consider such technology
as a replacement for the human teacher-student interaction. Technology is just a
means of presenting data, perhaps interpreted appropriately by the student as information
to them, and in turn, hopefully used to aid in the construction of their knowledge.
My continuing research is concerned with understanding the role played by semiotics
in teaching and learning, and how this influences the development of interactive