The Role of Sign Vehicles in Mediating Teachers’ Mathematical Problem Solving
Authors: (Sinikka Kaartinen, Timo Latomaa, University of Oulu, Finland)
Abstract: This chapter introduces the basic semiotic concepts of sign, sign vehicle, meaning content, meaning giving and shared meaning as understood in the European semiotic tradition, and investigates the role of semiotic tools as sign vehicles in mediating in-service teachers‘ mathematical problem solving. Our particular interest is to interpret the basic semiotic concepts from the cultural historical perspective for the analysis of discourses. The participants in our study were a group of teachers participating in an in-service course whose pedagogy draws on the sociocultural perspective. A specific discourse analysis method to unravel the nature of the semiotic tool as a sign vehicle was developed for the study. The dimensions of the discourse analysis method, grounded in the discourse data of the study, were discourse moves, the role of the semiotic vehicle and the cultural focus of interaction. The results of the study suggest that socially shared meaning making around the semiotic sign vehicle consisted of three types of content episodes, namely problem solving, clarification through mathematizing and clarification through hands-on activities. Four different participant roles emerged in the analysis of discourse moves. These roles were the tutor, clarifier, questioner and silent supporter. On the whole, the semiotic sign vehicle and discourse moves investigated in this study supported socially shared meaning making and hence teacher learning in the problem solving situation in this study.