Does every cell get blood? young students’ discussions about illustrations of human blood circulation

This article presents a study of how groups of young students discuss illustrations of human blood circulation. Transparency is not an innate quality of illustrations, visual information is always coded and interpretations are always related to culture and context. Results of this study are discussed with reference to Kress and van Leeuwens’ theoretical framework on multi-modal communication. Four student groups discussed the human blood circulation with a researcher after the groups had watched an educational film. Data was collected by video recording and an analysis of the group discussions was done by coding the transcripts according to the research questions. The results show how the students mainly discuss human blood circulation on a macroscopic level and that they only partly understand the illustrations from the film. Students showed difficulties to interpret illustrations with a scientific/technical orientation. The students in this study would need more help to find connections between human blood circulation and the content in the film, such as analogies and everyday phenomena, as the results show that the students do not easily connect the different illustrations to each other and they expressed only a few of the scientific ideas from the illustrations in this study.