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Socioscientific issues via controversy mapping: bringing actor-network theory into the science classroom with digital technology

Journal article
Authors Mark Elam
Anne Solli
Åsa Mäkitalo
Published in Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Volume 40
Issue 1
Pages 61-77
ISSN 0159-6306
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 61-77
Language en
Keywords Actor-network theory, citizenship education, controversy mapping, digital technology, interdisciplinary science education, socioscientific issues
Subject categories Information Systems, Social aspects, Technology and social change, Learning


What are the current challenges and opportunities for bringing actor-network theory (ANT) into issues-based science education? This article discusses experiences gained from introducing an educational version of ANT deploying digital technology into an upper secondary school science class. This teaching innovation, called controversy mapping, has been pioneered in different contexts of higher education before being adapted to school education. Experimenting with controversy mapping in a Swedish science class raised both conceptual and practical issues. These centre on: (1) how ANT-inspired controversy mapping redesigns the citizenship training enacted by institutionalized approaches to issues-based education as socioscientific issues (SSI); (2) how controversy mapping reconfigures the interdisciplinarity of issues-based science education; and (3) how controversy mapping displaces scientific literacy and knowledge of the nature of science as guiding concerns for teaching in favour of new preoccupations with digital literacy and digital tools and methods as contemporary infrastructures of free and open inquiry.

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