Picture This: Multimodal Representations of Prospective Teachers' Metaphors about Teachers and Teaching

April, 2016

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education 55 (April 2016) 33-44
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article describes the results of a multimodal project. The research study centers on participant-generated metaphors and required prospective teachers to capture, produce, and share their selected metaphors through multimodal means.

The participants were 52 secondary prospective teachers enrolled in ED 300 at a five-year teacher education program at a Midwestern public university. The majority of these prospective teachers were either English or social studies majors.

They were invited to participate in "Picture This” project.
In this project, the prospective teachers were introduced to the concept of metaphor and uses of metaphor as a means of articulating ideas about life and education, including teachers and teaching. They were asked to identify, capture, display, and articulate their metaphorical definition(s) of teachers and teaching.
Data were collected through multiple sources: participants' digital photographs, written abstracts, post-assignment email reflections and the researcher's analytic memos captured during and after data collection.

The findings reveal that the participants vary in their metaphorical conceptions of teachers and teaching. They are able to identify and articulate metaphors for teachers and teaching through multimodal means. Some participants perceive teachers and teaching as was symbolically represented through broader idea of guides/guiding. Other participants perceive their chosen metaphorical images and explanations as highlighted important teacher dispositions; and, for a smaller number of participants, their metaphorical images pointed to an inherent multiplicity of ideas and images regarding teachers and teaching.

The participants understood the metaphors and shared through multiple modes they were able to demonstrate and articulate in more than one way.
The findings suggest prospective teachers' uses of multimodality enabled individuals, to varying degrees, to more readily and through multiple modes identify, capture and articulate their understanding(s) of teaching and teachers. The author found that multiple modes afforded opportunities for participants to share with and learn from their peers over the course of a course project, rather than in a onetime setting.

The author argues that the inclusion of multimodality afforded participants varied opportunities to identify, capture, and articulate their metaphorical ideas.
The author concludes that providing opportunities for prospective teachers to move beyond literal explanations and interpretations of their future profession, doing so through the creation of multimodal texts, it was assumed that the assignment would serve to extend prospective teachers' perceptions and understanding. 

Updated: Oct. 04, 2018