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Kristina DanielssonProfessor

About me

I have a PhD in Scandinavian languages, and is currently professor of Swedish in Education at Stockholm University, and professor of Swedish at Linnaeus University, Sweden, where I am also part of the boards of the center for Educational Linguistics and  the Linnaeus University Center for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies (IMS). In recent years, my main research projects have been performed in the area of literacy in various school disciplines, with a special focus on multimodality. On behalf of the Swedish Board of Education I have written numerous articles for teachers’ in-service training and school development concerning reading, writing and text talk in educational contexts. Together with Dr Kok-Sing Tang, Curtin University, I was founding coordinator of the Special Interest Group Languages and Literacies in Science Education, and we are co-editors of the publication Global Developments on Literacy in Science, published by Springer.


Ongoing projects

  • Transformations of transformations. An interdisciplinary study of pupils' meaning-making through transformations of representations in science classes Financed by the Swedish Research Council 2018-2021. Project leader
  • Animated chemistry – the new kind of learning? Multidisciplinary developmental project, financed by The Swedish Institute for Educational Research 2017-2018, project leader professor Magnus Hultén, Linköping University.


  • Multilingual students' meaning making in the school subjects biology and physics. Multidisciplinary project financed by the Swedish Research Council, 2014-2017, project leader professor Monica Axelsson, Stockholm University.
  • Chemistry texts as tools for scientific learning. Multidisciplinary project financed by the Swedish Resarch Council 2007-2011, project leader professor Inger Eriksson, Stockholm University

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Affordances of physical objects as a material mode of representation

    2022. Kok-Sing Tang (et al.). International Journal of Science Education 44 (2), 179-200


    This paper examines the affordances of physical objects (e.g. apparatus, models, manipulatives) as they were used by teachers and students to make meaning in coordination with their speech and gestures. Despite the pervasive use of physical objects as material and tactile resources in hands-on investigations or demonstrations, there have been few attempts to analyze their role and function in meaning-making, in the same way, that researchers have previously done for other modes of representation such as speech, written text, diagram and gesture. Using social semiotics as a theoretical framework, we conceptualise physical objects as a semiotic mode with a particular affordance for making meaning that involves embodied actions and manipulation of tools. Based on a multimodal discourse analysis of numerous classroom situations, we illustrate how physical objects as a mode have four unique affordances for meaning-making in science classrooms. These affordances are: (a) enacting material interaction, (b) providing evidential meaning, (c) orientating three-dimensional spatial meaning and (d) sensitising experiential meaning. The implication of why we should use physical objects to support or value-add science meaning-making is then discussed. 

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  • Kunskapsutveckling genom ämnesspråk

    2022. Kristina Danielsson, Ewa Bergh Nestlog. Didaktikens språk, 87-102


    Elever på alla skolans stadier och studenter i högre utbildning rör sig mellan olika ämnen med olika innehållsligt fokus. Denna rörelse blir också en förflyttning mellan olika språkliga världar: ämnenas olika praktiker innebär att vi ”vill” olika saker med språket i dessa olika ämnesvärldar. I kapitlet presenterar vi begreppet ämneslitteracitet närmare. Vi gör det utifrån en vidgad syn på språk, där vi utöver verbalt språk (tal och skrift) inkluderar sådant som hur bilder och andra resurser används på ämnesspecifika sätt. Teoretiskt bygger kapitlet på socialsemiotik, vilket är en funktionell syn på språk och språkande som här också innefattar ett multimodalt perspektiv på språk och interaktion (Halliday, 1978; Kress, 2010). Vi presenterar också ett par didaktiska modeller som lärare kan använda för att dels själva få syn på ämnets språk, dels arbeta på sätt som ger elever möjlighet att utveckla ämneslitteracitet parallellt med sitt ämneskunnande.

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  • Primary Pupils’ Multimodal Representations in Worksheets—Text Work in Science Education

    2022. Fredrik Jeppsson (et al.). Education Sciences 12 (3), 221-221


    Worksheets are common in science classrooms with an aim to support pupils’ meaning-making, e.g., for guiding them in performing hands-on activities and documenting their experiences of such activities. Yet, there have been few systematic studies of pupils’ disciplinary representations in worksheets. Drawing on systemic functional linguistics, we have analyzed fifth grade pupils’ (age 10–11) multimodal texts in worksheets (n = 25) when they were working with shadow formation as part of their regular classroom activities. In the worksheets they were asked to first explain in writing why or why not a shadow was formed and then explain shadow formation through a drawing. At an overall level, we found that a majority of the pupils managed to express in writing why a shadow is formed, though it appeared to be more challenging for them to explain why a shadow is not formed. In their drawings, quite a few pupils managed to include several key aspects of shadow formation, at least when combining image with writing. For all tasks, the explanatory parts of the pupils’ responses were often implicit. Based on our results, we suggest that pupils may benefit from teaching practices that integrate a parallel focus on form and content as a way to raise their awareness of, for instance, the affordances of different resources and how explanations can be structured. Such practices may support pupils to be able to consider and choose appropriate resources in their disciplinary texts.

    Read more about Primary Pupils’ Multimodal Representations in Worksheets—Text Work in Science Education
  • Analysing Multimodal Texts in Science—a Social Semiotic Perspective

    2021. Hanna Wanselin, Kristina Danielsson, Susanne Wikman. Research in science education


    Teaching and learning in science disciplines are dependent on multimodal communication. Earlier research implies that students may be challenged when trying to interpret and use different semiotic resources. There have been calls for extensive frameworks that enable analysis of multimodal texts in science education. In this study, we combine analytical tools deriving from social semiotics, including systemic functional linguistics (SFL), where the ideational, interpersonal, and textual metafunctions are central. In regard to other modes than writing—and to analyse how textual resources are combined—we build on aspects highlighted in research on multimodality. The aim of this study is to uncover how such a framework can provide researchers and teachers with insights into the ways in which various aspects of the content in multimodal texts are communicated through different semiotic resources. Furthermore, we aim to explore how different text resources interact and, finally, how the students, or authors of teaching resources, position themselves in relation to the subject. Data consist of one student text and one teaching resource text, both comprising drawn and written elements in combination with symbols. Our analyses of the student text suggest that the proposed framework can provide insights into students’ content knowledge and, hence, how construction of multimodal texts may be a useful tool for formative assessment. When it comes to teaching resources, the framework may be a useful tool for teachers when choosing resources, particularly in relation to students’ possibilities of meaning making when engaging with such texts, but also, as a basis for classroom discussions.

    Read more about Analysing Multimodal Texts in Science—a Social Semiotic Perspective
  • Multimodal texts in disciplinary education

    2021. Kristina Danielsson, Staffan Selander.


    This open access book provides an introduction to multimodality and the role of multimodal texts in today’s education. Presenting a comprehensive framework for analysing and working with multimodal texts in disciplinary education, it serves as a tool for researchers and teachers alike. The second part of the book focuses on sample analyses of a variety of educational texts for different age groups and from different disciplines, including games and online resources. The authors also comment on the specific challenges of each text, and how teachers can discuss such texts with their students to enhance both their understanding of the content and their multimodal literacy. The book is intended for researchers in fields like education and multimodal studies, and for teacher educators, regardless of school subject or age group. With the combined perspectives on text analysis and implications for education, the book addresses the needs of teachers who want to work with multimodal aspects of texts in education in informed ways, but lack the right tools for such work.

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  • 'Traveling nutrients'

    2020. Alma Jahic Pettersson, Kristina Danielsson, Carl-Johan Rundgren. International Journal of Science Education 41 (8), 1281-1301


    Previous research suggests that students use metaphors when asked to explain digestive processes and nutritional uptake. In this paper, we describe the results of a study designed to gain a deeper understanding of how metaphors and anthropomorphisms are used by students when describing such processes. We applied analyses based on the systemic-functional grammar framework to 123 student responses to a question about nutrition on a Swedish national test in biology in order to identify, describe and analyse how students use metaphors and to understand the linguistic structure of those metaphors. We also considered how the metaphors are linked to metaphor systems and anthropomorphisms, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of the role of metaphors in this area. The results of our analyses provide important insights into how students understand digestion and nutrition and could provide the basis for improved teaching materials and methods for these important topics.

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  • Resolving puzzling phenomena by the simple particle model: examining thematic patterns of multimodal learning and teaching

    2020. Maurice M. W. Cheng, Kristina Danielsson, Angel M. Y. Lin. Learning: Research and Practice 6 (1), 70-87


    This paper examines the roles of multimodality and thematic patterns in the teaching of the particle model of matter. Although the particle model is a fundamental topic in science education, there is no consensus on (1) whether or not the model should be introduced in early grades and (2) how to introduce the model to students for the very first time. Drawing from teacher development projects in Sweden (Grade 3) and in Hong Kong (Grade 7), we suggest that the learning and teaching of the particle model can be facilitated by utilising a variety of modes. With multimodal scaffolding, Grade 3 students were able to demonstrate aspects of the particle model related to the expansion of gases in a warmer environment. The paper illustrates teaching episodes from the two projects in terms of (i) aspects of the particle model that were constructed using different semiotic modes, (ii) shifts in the salience of different modes in the teaching and learning process, and (iii) a thematic pattern that the classroom interactions adopted to explain puzzling phenomena. For a theoretical advancement, we suggest that thematic analysis should be extended to multimodal interactions.

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  • Textskapande i grundskolan - utveckla funktionella skrivpraktiker

    2020. Ewa Bergh Nestlog, Kristina Danielsson.


    Att utveckla elevers förmåga att skapa texter är ett område som av tradition kopplas till svenskämnet. Samtidigt vet vi att elever skapar olika former av text i de flesta av skolans ämnen. Forskning har också visat att elever utvecklar såväl förmågan att skapa funktionella texter som ämneskunskaper genom att få arbeta med text i skolans olika ämnen på ett meningsfullt sätt.

    Textskapande i grundskolan beskriver ett perspektiv på textskapande som har fokus på texters funktion. I boken visar författarna hur textundervisningen kan organiseras i klassrummet och hur läraren kan stötta eleverna i arbetsprocessen. Med hjälp av tankar och modeller som utgår från forskning och beprövad erfarenhet presenterar de förhållningssätt som låter lärare skapa en funktionell skrivundervisning tillsammans med sina elever. En sådan undervisning är inriktad på elevernas möjlighet att kommunicera erfarenheter i de texter som de skapar och därmed utveckla sin identitet som kunnig.

    Boken riktar sig till såväl studenter inom lärarutbildningen som till lärare i grundskolans olika årskurser och ämnen.

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  • Modes and meaning in the classroom – The role of different semiotic resources to convey meaning in science classrooms

    2016. Kristina Danielsson. Linguistics and Education 35, 88-99


    This study is framed within social semiotic perspectives on multimodality, and it has a twofold aim. The primary aim is to analyze the ways in which teachers draw on different semiotic resources when introducing a new scientific concept in secondary school science classrooms, and to link the results to modal affordance. A secondary aim is to try out parallel analyses of different modes in multimodal meaning making using the ideational meta-function of the SFL framework. Analyses are based on instructional episodes when chemistry teachers introduced the atom as a scientific phenomenon. The main focus of the analyses is on processes used in different modes and how these depict the atom as either static or dynamic. The framework proved fruitful, and analyses revealed important patterns as to what aspects of the atom were given through what mode(s), something which could partly be linked to modal affordance. The results are discussed in relation to its implications for research and education.

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  • Multimodala perspektiv på naturvetenskapligt lärande

    2016. Kristina Danielsson. Flerspråkighet som resurs, 196-206


    Under de senaste årtiondena har vi i forskning och skola sett en allt större insikt om att varje ämnesområde har sitt specifika sätt att språkligt uttrycka innehållet. Den insikten gäller inte minst lärare som arbetar med elever som lär sig på ett annat språk än sitt modersmål. Vad som varit mindre uppmärksammat är hur centralt också multimodalitet är i meningsskapandet, det vill säga att vi använder en mängd olika resurser i samspel i all kommunikation –inte ”bara” ord, utan också bilder, gester, symbolspråk och liknande. Därför är det viktigt för alla lärare att ha kunskap om multimodalitet, inte minst för dem som undervisar elever som lär sig på ett annat språk än sitt modersmål, både för att medvetet kunna utnyttja de möjligheter som ligger i ett multimodalt perspektiv på meningsskapande, och för att öka sin medvetenhet om vilka särskilda utmaningar det kan innebära.

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  • Reading Multimodal Texts for Learning – a Model for Cultivating Multimodal Literacy

    2016. Kristina Danielsson, Staffan Selander. Designs for Learning 8 (1), 25-36


    The re-conceptualisation of texts over the last 20 years, as well as the development of a multimodal understanding of communication and representation of knowledge, has profound consequences for the reading and understanding of multimodal texts, not least in educational contexts. However, if teachers and students are given tools to “unwrap” multimodal texts, they can develop a deeper understanding of texts, information structures, and the textual organisation of knowledge. This article presents a model for working with multimodal texts in education with the intention to highlight mutual multimodal text analysis in relation to the subject content. Examples are taken from a Singaporean science textbook as well as a Chilean science textbook, in order to demonstrate that the framework is versatile and applicable across different cultural contexts.

    The model takes into account the following aspects of texts: the general structure, how different semiotic resources operate, the ways in which different resources are combined (including coherence), the use of figurative language, and explicit/implicit values. Since learning operates on different dimensions – such as social and affective dimensions besides the cognitive ones – our inclusion of figurative language and values as components for textual analysis is a contribution to multimodal text analysis for learning.

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  • Se texten! multimodala texter i ämnesdidaktiskt arbete

    2014. Kristina Danielsson, Staffan Selander.


    Bokens första del ger en introduktion till multimodalitet och hur texter kan representera kunskap på olika sätt. Här presenteras också en modell för analys av multimodala texter och didaktiska implikationer för arbete med sådana texter presenteras.  I bokens andra del görs närläsningar och exempelanalyser av pappersbaserade och digitala pedagogiska texter i olika ämnen och för olika åldrar. 

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  • Learning Chemistry. Text Use and Text Talk in a Finland-Swedish Chemistry Classroom

    2010. Kristina Danielsson. IARTEM e-journal 3 (2), 1-28


    The article draws on the notion that the process of gradually becoming part of new social contexts always involves a gradual enculturation into the discourse of the field, and also that the responsibility of the educational systems is to give students opportunities to develop their literacy competence in various subject areas. The article also argues for an explicit text focus in science classrooms, due to the complexity of texts used in the area, especially regarding multimodality. For the purpose of discussing these issues, an analysis of literacy events in a chemistry classroom has been done. The starting point was to investigate what semiotic resources connected to a multimodal concept of texts were used, and how, with a special interest in meta-textual classroom discussions. The results of the analysis reveal that the students come across a number of different texts in the chemistry classroom, but that longer running texts neither are read nor written in the classroom and that almost no meta-textual discussions take place. Pedagogical implications of the results are discussed.

    Read more about Learning Chemistry. Text Use and Text Talk in a Finland-Swedish Chemistry Classroom

Show all publications by Kristina Danielsson at Stockholm University