Contribute to a Special Issue of RISE

Invitation to Contribute to a Special Issue of RISE

Title of Special Issue: Multimodal Meaning Making in Science

Guest Editors:

A/Prof Wendy Nielsen, University of Wollongong, Australia

Dr Jennifer Yeo, National Institute of Education, Singapore

Overview of the Special Issue

Students learn science through working with representations. Traditional theories driving research on multiple representations are typically based in cognitivist theories of learning: Mayer’s (2005) Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning; Schnotz’ (2014) Integrated Model of Text and Picture Comprehension; and Ainsworth’s (2006) Multiple External Representations (Opfermann, Schmeck, & Fischer, 2017). These theories have been widely influential and important for understanding how learners learn from representations. However, these theories emerged prior to the explosion of ubiquitous personal technologies and a contemporary emphasis on student-generated representations, and thus have limited our potential to understand how learners learn science when they are the producers of multimodal representations. In other words, new theories are needed to understand how learners make meaning as they construct multimodal representations. This is the focus of this special issue: a paper set where a range of objects of study across a range of science learning contexts are grounded in social semiotics (Halliday, 1978; van Leeuwen, 2010). Each paper advances from this grounding to fruitfully develop our understandings of how learners make meaning and learn science as they create multimodal representations.

In this Special Issue of Research in Science Education, we invite researchers and theoreticians who work in multiple representations and social semiotics in science learning to propose a paper for this special issue. Taking social semiotics as the starting point, we seek interest in the form of an abstract submitted for consideration for inclusion in the special issue. The 150-200 word abstract thus serves as an ‘expression of interest’ from which full papers will be invited. If you would like to discuss your paper idea with one of the Co-Editors, please get in touch via email.


Timelines for the special issue:

  • Mar 31/20      Abstracts due
  • Apr 30/20       Authors notified; papers invited
  • Nov 30/20      Full papers due
  • Jan-Aug/21    Reviews and Revisions
  • Sept/21          Final versions accepted and prepared for publication
  • Late 2021       Publication, online first



Reference list

Ainsworth, S. (2006). DeFT: A conceptual framework for considering learning with multiple representations. Learning and Instruction, 16(3), 183-198.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as social semiotic: The social interpretation of language and meaning. London: Laden Edward Arnold.

van Leeuwen, T. (2010). Introducing social semiotics. London: Routledge.

Mayer, R. E. (Ed.). (2005). Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University.

Opfermann, M., Schmeck, A., & Fischer, H. E. (2017). Multiple representations in physics and science education: Why should we use them? In D. F. Treagust, R. Duit & H. E. Fischer (Eds.), Multiple representations in physics education (pp. 1-22). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.

Schnotz, W. (2014). Integrated model of text and picture comprehension. In R. E. Mayer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (2nd ed.) (pp. 72-103). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University.