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Discourses and Linguistic Strategies of Legitimation about Forces Used by Physics Textbooks and Students of Senior High Schools
Systemic Functional Linguistics
Kelly's Repertory Grid Technique (RGT)
Abstract The linguistic bases on that senior high school students and physical textbooks rely to construct force as reality in Chinese are investigated. On the linguistic stratum, a theoretical entity can be constructed as reality by two ways. One is by linguistic facts. An entity’s reality is self-evident because of the discourse talking about it. The other is by legitimation. An entity’s reality is justified by showing that the scientific term does have signification or the signified of it is different from ones of other terms (Anyone who doubts these two claims is in legitimation crises). In legitimation, the linguistic strategies used in argument ideally are the transformation between metaphoric events and technical events (i.e., technicality construction). According to systemic functional linguistics, theoretical entities participate in events as grammatical objects with the form of noun. These events are called as “metaphorical events” following the lexico-grammar known as “discourses”. In technical events, the grammatical forms of theoretical entities are congruent to the experiential forms. Through technicality construction, theoretical entities are transformed into congruent expressions. And then they obtain the meaning resided in everyday language and become understandable. Empirical findings show that on linguistic facts, textbooks and senior high school students do construct the scientific-force discourse, which is different from common-sense-force discourse, and on legitimation, there is hardly technicality construction. The content analysis on the corpuses of science textbooks and of the Academia Sinica Balanced Corpus of Modern Chinese and the questionnaire survey on 72 students through “Linguistic Expressions Questionnaire” with the structure of Kelly’s Repertory Grid both show that: (1). There are two kinds of discourses. One is for scientific force and the other is for common-sense force. (2). Senior high school students can distinguish these two discourses with an ambiguous boundary. And (3). the discourses of 15th grade students are more coincident with the conventional usage than ones of 13th grade students. These indicate that the grammatical existence of force has been built in the group of senior high school students. However on the aspect of legitimation, the analysis on texts of science textbooks and the interviews on 13th grade 15 students having read the texts shows: (1). The reference of “force” does not be properly interpreted by these texts. The cohesions between “force” and “action” and between “action” and the corresponding expression in technical events are not properly built up. (2). The reference of “contact” in “contact force” does not be interpreted either. In sum, there is no technicality construction in the science texts. Furthermore, 13th grade 15 students were interviewed and asked to interpret the results of measurement using spring scale so that they were situated in the legitimation crises. The analysis by applying the Toulmin’s framework of argumentation finds that varieties of linguistic strategies are identified but students cannot correctly unpack metaphoric events into technical events so as to refer the signification of “force” and make effective argumentations. For them, force is a hollow reality. By choosing the viewpoints of linguistic facts and of legitimation, the investigation on concept learning through linguistic analysis is conducted. The meanings of this approach in related studies and some suggestions about science curriculum, teaching, teacher education, and further research are brought up as conclusion.
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