What do the school walls say? 2024

Helping researchers interpret messages found in the school environment

What messages can be found on the walls of Swedish schools? Who are they aimed at and who is sharing the information? Pupils and teachers in Sweden will be helping researchers to investigate these questions in the Citizen Science project ”What do the school walls say?”, the 2024 ForskarFredag Mass experiment.

All children in Sweden spend time in school, and the school environment plays a central role in the lives of young people. Apart from imparting academic knowledge, schools need to empower pupils to take ownership of their learning. Furthermore, the values ​​and mission of a school emphasise the importance of fostering an environment marked by respect for people’s differences and providing pupils with an appreciation of cultural diversity. Schools also have the opportunity and duty to enhance pupils’ competencies related to democracy, norms, values, rights, and responsibilities.

The school environment is also filled with linguistic and visual messages. In the citizen science project ”What do the school walls say?”, teachers and school classes from both primary and secondary schools in different parts of Sweden will help researchers investigate how – and to what extent – democratic values are expressed through the signs, notes, and notices displayed on the walls of classrooms, corridors, and common areas. The study will also examine the messages conveyed by these communications, their purposes, and who the senders and intended audience are.

Schoolscapes – messages in the public domain

The project combines two research methodologies: Linguistic landscapes and citizen science. Linguistic landscapes, and more specifically Schoolscapes, are the investigation of the diverse messages found in public spaces and institutions. In citizen science, members of the public participate in the research process, facilitating the gathering and analysis of large amounts of data, while citizens, in this case, school pupils, gain insights into what science is all about and how research is conducted.

In this study, in which pupils and teachers will photograph and analyse messages found on the school walls, two key questions will be explored:

  • How do the messages displayed on the school signs and notices align with core values ​​outlined in documents relating to the governance of the school?
  • What roles do these signs and notices play, and what resources, such as language, images, films, etc. are used to convey these messages?

”What do the school walls say” is a collaboration between researchers in Language and Educational Sciences at Stockholm University and Uppsala University, and the non-profit organisation Public & Science. It is being run as a Mass experiment as part of the annual science festival ForskarFredag, European Researchers’ Night in Sweden.

Timeline 2024

  • 12 April Registration opens for schools to participate in ”What do the school walls say”
  • May – Pilot experiment will be conducted by four selected classes.
  • Week 35 – Schools are notified if they have been chosen to participate in the 2024 ForskarFredag mass experiment.
  • September – October 2024 – A limited number of classes across Sweden conducts the ForskarFredag mass experiment. Classes will be selected based on several criteria. (E.g. age of pupils and geographical location).

For more information about the project, please David Borgström, Project Manager, Public & Science Sweden.  


ForskarFredags Massexperiment

[email protected]

David Borgström

[email protected]