ABSTRACT. This paper presents an argument about the cultural construction of visual products. Based on data from video observations, interviews and the collection of student-produced (visual) artifacts, a material ethnography approach is presented. Applying reflexivity with the use of visuals, the following argument is made. Instead of revealing insights through just one approach, a reflective methodology should consider: (a) the context in which the visual was produced; (b) the content of the visual; (c) the contexts in, and subjectivities through, which visuals are viewed; and (d) the materiality and agency of visuals. A case of a New Zealand year 7/8 primary science class studying the water cycle is presented. It is argued that teaching science concepts like the water cycle through visualizations cannot be an abstract endeavor because even when abstract ideas are presented, they are visualized as concrete objects. The teacher used a range of visual materials including video clips, diagrams, student drawings, and student produced 3D models, each endowed with unique material and visual dimensions. The teacher activated those through talking, writing, drawing and working with artifacts and purposefully recorded conversations with individual students to be able to reflect on and track the children’s progression in understanding. pp. 14–28

Keywords: visuality; material objects; reflexivity; subjectivity; objective; cultural constructions


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Department of Learning and Philosophy,
Aalborg University

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