Multi-Modal Learning

Multi-Modal Strategies

The final post for this inquiry project will demonstrate different methods that I have seen and researched as part of the Multi-Modal inquiry project.


Peirce (1893-1910) claimed that all disciplinary meaning-making practices, including mathematics and science, can be represented by a triadic account of how signs have meaning.


Representation of sign or signifier- Verbal, visual, mathematical, embodied, word text, image, gesture, action, graph, table, symbol, diagram, use of discourse conventions

Referent in world – Physical object, experience, artefact, situation/context, process

Meaning- Sense made of sign, concept, idea, theory, explanation


This theory shows different combinations of materials that are usually effective in a science-based lesson or classroom. Many of these combinations can also be applied to other school subjects.


Russell and McGuigan

Russell and McGuigan (2001) noted that the developmental processes of student understanding involve the “re-coding of representations”, implying that conceptual change entails a process of re-representation, where learners generate and transform “representations which are stored in different modalities, with meta-cognitive ‘explication’ mediated by linguistic processes” (p. 600)

Essentially what these researchers are describing, is that multi-modal teaching is important so that students can begin to make cross-curricular connections, as well as making connections to the real world. It is also noted in their research, that both student and teachers generated various representations of the target concepts, and knowledge constructions was viewed as the process of making and transforming these different modes of representation. These constructions of knowledge scaffolded their understandings in relation to their perceptions of the real world and it’s current/historic events.

Florax and Ploetzner

These two researchers have focused on students’ construction of self-explanation diagrams of understanding concepts across multiple topics. Rather than emphasize a particular representation or one classroom strategy, they focused on researching the general understandings as a key to effective learning. Instead of seeking to identify or produce an exemplary representation as providing the key to effective learning and teaching, they looked at the processes the teachers and students went through in order to produce those pieces of work. Maintaining a positive attitude towards the learning was a huge part of their research, which they maintained through activities and the opportunity for inquiry.



Representations of successful learning in the past have included being able to read a text and answer some questions, or getting 100% on a quiz. The representations of learning now that carry value for teachers and students include acting out learning, PowerPoints, presentations, art and discussion.

I hope that you were able to make some connections to different theories that you may already be implementing in your class without even realizing it, or you may have discovered a new idea that would work well for your current classroom.



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