student profile: Ms Yufei He


Thesis work

Thesis title: Animation as semiosis�towards a stratified metafunctional model of animation

Supervisors: Theodoor VAN LEEUWEN, James MARTIN

Thesis abstract:

Animation is widely acknowledged for dynamically visualizing information and has been increasingly used in educational context. However, the growing presence of animation used for educational purposes has not been accompanied by well-informed studies that focus on the semiotic features of animation (Berney & Bétrancourt, 2016; Ploetzner & Lowe, 2012). This study proposes a systematic model of animation by drawing on two concepts of stratification and metafunction which are important for the modelling of semiotic systems in the tradition of Systemic Functional Semiotics and Social Semiotics. The expression plane of animation is concerned with changed elements, with different changed elements realizing different ideational and textual meaning on the content plane.

In terms of ideational meaning on the content plane, there are two major types of figure, action figure and manifestation figure, with action figure featuring a more elaborate meaning-making potential. Figures are combined to form figure complexes with different logico-semantic relations. A textual meaning system of information is presented to show the different information structure of animation.

Based on the stratified metafunctional model of animation and drawing on the recent framework of field (Doran, 2018; Martin and Doran, forthcoming), this study examined the affordances of different animation in construing field. It is found that figure complex is an important mechanism to build complex field relations and different information structure of animation have different affordances in composing ideational meaning. In summary, animated videos are not homogenous: there are differences between different animated videos as well as within a single animation. It is hoped that the proposed model of animation can offer some insights for modeling semiosis other than language and for the selection and use of animation in science education.


Berney, S., & Bétrancourt, M. (2016). Does animation enhance learning? A meta-analysis. Computers and Education, 101, 150–167.

Doran, Y.J. (2018). Field relations: Ideational meaning across semiosis. Presentation at SFL research seminar in the University of Sydney.

Martin, J. R. and Doran, Y. J. (forthcoming) Field Relations: understanding Scientific Explanations. In K. Maton, J. R. Martin and Y. J. Doran (eds) Studying Science: Knowledge, Language, Pedagogy. London: Routledge.

Ploetzner, R., & Lowe, R. (2012). A systematic characterisation of expository animations. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(3), 781–794.

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.