Being able to engage with science representations, such as graphs, drawings, animations, gestures and written and verbal texts lies at the heart of scientific literacy. This article introduces the design-based research project Representations and Participation in School Science (REDE), which aims to investigate new aspects of how representations create learning and teaching opportunities in school science in lower and secondary school. It does so by scrutinising the role of representations in three areas of science education: the learning of science content, socio-scientific issues (SSI) and the nature of science. Central to the REDE project is the development of teaching designs whereby students’ and teachers’ engagement with various forms of representations are at the core of learning activities. The teaching designs are developed by teachers together with the researchers in REDE and are tested by the teachers and their students at three partner schools. In this article, we outline the theoretical framework of the project, which is based on scientific literacy and the notion of a ‘third space’. We also introduce the design principles that inform the development of the teaching designs, as well as the two main analytical approaches that we use to analyse students’ and teachers’ engagement with science representations: multimodal analysis and interaction analysis. Finally, we illustrate the potential of the theoretical framework, the design principles and the multimodal analysis in contributing to the investigations in REDE. We do so by presenting and discussing analyses of three empirical cases from classrooms where students worked with teaching designs that focus on representations.
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