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Learning and Teaching through Controversy Mapping (LETCOM)

The aim of this project is to investigate what it means to learn about science and engage with issues in technoscientific innovation in a world that relies heavily on digitized information. Scientific findings, arguments and claims from different fields are available through digital media raising issues of concern and controversy that are not only part of science-in-the-making but also generative of new dilemmas in the lives of citizens.

The aim of this project is also to investigate a digital method that invites such complexity and investigate what it implies for established educational practices, where students are to learn about science and how to exert their agency as young citizens in a digital landscape. The method is derived from a network of scholars that engage in developing digital tools to map scientific controversies. The digital method is spreading in the educational system in Europe and has recently been described as a major step for educational innovation. Our objective is to more thoroughly investigate what this digital method enable, restrict and challenge as it enters into established school practices in Sweden.

Publications and conferences

Peer reviewed articles

Elam, M., Solli, A. Mäkitalo, Å. (accepted). Socioscientific issues via controversy mapping: Bringing actor-network theory into the science classroom with digital technology. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education

Solli, A., Hillman, T. & Mäkitalo, Å. (accepted) Rendering controversial socioscientific issues legible through digital mapping tools. International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning.

Solli, A., Hillman, T. & Mäkitalo, Å. (2017) Navigating the complexity of socio-scientific controversies: How students make multiple voices present in discourse. Research in Science Education, 1-29.

Peer reviewed books/chapters

Mäkitalo, Å., Elam, M., Solli, A. & Ferraz C. D. Freire, S. (in press) Digital inquiry into emerging issues of public concern: Controversy mapping in a Swedish school context. In Å. Mäkitalo, T. Nicewonger & M. Elam (Eds.). Designs for experimentation and inquiry: Approaching learning and knowing in digital transformation. Routledge.

Mäkitalo, Å. & Ferraz C. D. Freire, S. (manuscript) Navigating in a digital terrain: A dialogical approach to students’ meaning making in complex digital environments. In R. Säljö (Ed.). Coming to know in a digital world: Challenges and affordances for learning and instruction.


Solli, A. (2018). Appeals to science: Recirculation of online claims in the classroom. Paper presentation at the EARLI SIG 10/21 conference in Luxenbourg August 30-31, Switzerland.

Mäkitalo, Å. (2018). A dialogical approach to students’ meaning making in complex digital environments. Symposia contribution at the EARLI SIG 10/21 conference in Luxenbourg August 30-31, Switzerland.

Elam, M., Solli, A. & Mäkitalo, Å. (2017). Socioscientific Issues via Controversy Mapping: Bringing Actor-Network Theory into the Science Classroom with Digital Technology. Paper presentation at the STS conference in Gothenburg.

Solli, A. Elam, M. & Mäkitalo, Å. (2017) Controversy mapping: Navigating and mediating issues of concern. Paper presentation at the 17th Biennal EARLI Conference on Research on Learning and Instruction 27 august - 2 september 2017, Tampere, Finland

Solli, A., Hillman, T. & Mäkitalo, Å. (2017). Students Exploring Online Information On Socio-scientific Controversies Using Digital Mapping Tools. Paper presented at the ESERA conference, august 21 - 25, Dublin, Irland,

Solli, A., Hillman, T. & Mäkitalo, Å. (2016). Engaging with controversy maps in a school science context. Symposia contribution at the 12th ICLS conference June 20-24 2016 in Singapore.

Solli, A. & Mäkitalo, Å. (2016). Holding multiple perspectives in a dialogical space: Mapping and negotiating controversial issues in an upper secondary school setting. Paper presentation at the EARLI SIG 10, 21 and 25 conference August 28-29 in Tartu, Estonia.

Workshops/Conferences for professional teachers

Mäkitalo, Å. Hillman, T. & Solli, A. (2018) Hur förstå online information och arbeta med kartläggning av den i klassrummet? Workshop på PoPUpDig18 konferens den 19 juni, Pedagogen, Göteborgs universitet. Göteborg.

Solli, A. & Mäkitalo, Å. (2016) Att navigera i komplexa frågor: introduktion av digitala metoder i gymnasieskolan. Forskning pågår. Göteborgs universitet den 2 november 2016, Göteborg.

More about the project

Åsa Mäkitalo, Professor in Education, project leader
Dep. of Education Communication and Learning
Email: asa.makitalo@ped.gu.se

Project members

Mark Elam, professor in sociology
Åke Ingerman, professor in science and technology education
Anne Solli, lic. bioscience, PhD student in education
Reka-Izabella Bányai, research assistant

Project funding

The Swedish Research Council


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