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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton December 7, 2021

Multimodal positioning of artifacts in interaction in a collaborative elementary engineering club

Katarina Silvestri, Mary McVee, Christopher Jarmark, Lynn Shanahan and Kenneth English
From the journal Multimodal Communication

Abstract

This exploratory case study uses multimodal positioning analysis to determine and describe how a purposefully crafted emergent artifact comes to influence and/or manipulate social dynamics, structure, and positionings of one design team comprised of five third-graders in an afterschool elementary engineering and literacy club. In addition to social semiotic theories of multimodality (e.g., Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: a social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. New York, NY: Routledge) and multimodal interactional analysis (Norris, S. (2004). Analyzing multimodal interaction: a methodological framework. New York, NY: Routledge, Norris, S. (2019). Systematically working with multimodal data: research methods in multimodal discourse analysis. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell), Positioning Theory (Harré, R. and Van Langenhove, L. (1991). Varieties of positioning. J. Theor. Soc. Behav. 21: 393–407) is used to examine group interactions with the artifact, with observational data collected from audio, video, researcher field notes, analytic memos, photographs, student artifacts (e.g., drawn designs, built designs), and transcriptions of audio and video data. Analysis of interactions of the artifact as it unfolds demonstrates multiple types of role-based positioning with students (e.g., builder, helper, idea-sharer). Foregrounding analysis of the artifact, rather than the student participants, exposed students’ alignment or opposition with their groupmates during the project. This study contributes to multimodal and artifactual scholarship through a close examination of positions emergent across time through multimodal communicative actions and illustrates how perspectives on multimodality may be analytically combined with Positioning Theory.


Corresponding author: Katarina Silvestri, Department of Literacy, SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY, USA, E-mail:

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Received: 2020-05-21
Accepted: 2021-10-21
Published Online: 2021-12-07

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