Original Research

Semantic waves and their affordances for teaching scaffolding to pre-service teachers

Zaheera Jina Asvat
Reading & Writing | Vol 13, No 1 | a346 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v13i1.346 | © 2022 Zaheera Jina Asvat | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 November 2021 | Published: 29 July 2022

About the author(s)

Zaheera Jina Asvat, Wits School of Education, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Research argues that parents/teachers and learners work collaboratively and this active participation in scaffolded activities builds knowledge and extends understandings. However, researchers who have explored scaffolding as a pedagogic tool do not demonstrate how this tool looks in practice.

Objectives: As a teacher educator, I introduce concepts like scaffolding as part of pre-service teachers’ theory of learning. The purpose of this article is to explore how the Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) concepts of semantic gravity and semantic waves, show modelling interactions that reveal the learning pathways leading to independent mastery of the task.

Method: The study was conducted in 2020, which presented a unique opportunity to watch one teacher teach three Grade 3 learners online on a one-to-one basis, providing for comparisons between them. This qualitative study represented a case-study research design and employed data analysis using a semantic gravity translation device. Convenience sampling was used when selecting the participants. A story, ‘A visit to the dentist’, was used to identify the metaphors in the text.

Results: Using semantic waves, I show how the teacher works with concepts, criteria, text resources and learner understanding. The analysis exposed pathways that could now be purposefully designed.

Conclusion: Further research is necessary to investigate the value of semantic waves as a means of enabling teachers to track these kinds of interaction.

Contribution: The findings provide the means to demonstrating how semantic waves may assist teachers to design and operationalise learning pathways in ways that scaffolding cannot.


legitimation code theory (LCT); semantic gravity; semantic waves; learning pathways; scaffolding; metaphor


Total abstract views: 2982
Total article views: 2650

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.