Using science-based news reports to bridge a language gap: a language and literacy perspective on learning secondary science

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

Abstract

When the language of the science classroom is too far removed from the every day language of pupils and their experience, the resulting language barriers make it difficult for some pupils to learn science. Science-based news reports offer a way to bridge the gap between the language of science learning and the language of the world beyond the classroom. This study explores intentional language instruction in science using news media to promote higher-level reading skills needed to engage critically with science-based text. Science reported in the media sways opinions and influences public attitudes to science issues. However, a reported lack of transferability of literacy skills suggests that individuals with limited critical literacy skills may be ill-equipped to engage with the proliferation of science based media articles.
The study addressed two key questions:
• Can media based contexts and language-building activities in science be effective in promoting critical reading in science?
• What science learning outcomes can be observed when language development activities are incorporated into the science curriculum?
A randomized control trial involving 345 pupils from 11 primary schools tested the efficacy of the ‘Newswise’ approach. Results indicated a positive effect on critical reading of science. It was also noted that the programme was equally successful in improving the critical reading capability of boys and girls. In addition a parallel qualitative classroom observation study involving 250 pupils from 9 schools used video recordings, questionnaires and interviews to explore pupils’ learning in science and their attitude and aptitude to engage critically with media-based science reports.
This research offers much needed classroom-based evidence to inform the resourcing and teaching of the literacy component of science literacy. In particular it addresses the challenge of building pupils’ language capacity alongside learning in science and explores the issue of assessment of critical reading in science.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2019
EventThe beauty and pleasure of understanding: engaging with contemporary challenges through science education.” - Bologna, Italy
Duration: 26 Aug 201930 Aug 2019

Conference

ConferenceThe beauty and pleasure of understanding: engaging with contemporary challenges through science education.”
Abbreviated titleESERA 2019
CountryItaly
CityBologna
Period26/08/201930/08/2019

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  • Cite this

    McClune, W. (2019). Using science-based news reports to bridge a language gap: a language and literacy perspective on learning secondary science. Poster session presented at The beauty and pleasure of understanding: engaging with contemporary challenges through science education.”, Bologna, Italy.