Sustainable Language Support Practices in Science Education: Technologies and Solutions

Sustainable Language Support Practices in Science Education: Technologies and Solutions

Felicia Zhang (University of Canberra, Australia), Brett Andrew Lidbury (Australian National University, Australia), Alice Marion Richardson (University of Canberra, Australia), Brian Francis Yates (University of Tasmania, Australia), Michael Guy Gardiner (University of Tasmania, Australia), Adam James Bridgeman (University of Sydney, Australia), Jurgen Schulte (University of Technology, Sydney, Australia), John Cameron Rodger (University of Newcastle, Australia) and Karen Elizabeth Mate (University of Newcastle, Australia)
Indexed In: SCOPUS
Release Date: August, 2011|Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 266
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-062-0
ISBN13: 9781613500620|ISBN10: 1613500629|EISBN13: 9781613500637
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Description & Coverage

The effective communication of science through language, including reading, writing, listening, speaking, and visual representation, is an essential part of scientific learning, understanding, and practice. Language is the medium by which scientific reasoning occurs, whether be it formal language or symbolic representations of scientific phenomena.

Sustainable Language Support Practices in Science Education: Technologies and Solutions presents cases on the results of a study done in Australia on first-year university students and the impact of new techniques of language acquisition on science education. The project covered biology, chemistry, and physics. Nearly 3,400 students were involved in the project, drawn from the University of Canberra, the University of Technology-Sydney, the University of Sydney, the University of Tasmania, and the University of Newcastle in Australia. This book serves as the latest research available on meta-cognitive assessment and language needs for a diverse student body; it is a vital resource for academics and practitioners designing and implementing science education around the world today.


The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Academic Predictors
  • Computer-Enhanced Language Acquisition
  • Concepts Inventory
  • Experience Based Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Language Focused and Career Oriented Interventions
  • Open and Distance Learning
  • Scientific Method Instruction
  • Symbolic Language
  • Tertiary Education
Reviews and Testimonials

Over the years there has been a dearth of projects involving cross-disciplinary teams addressing the crucial issue of the interaction between language and conceptual understanding and learning in science. This book will go a long way towards filling this gap in our knowledge and at the very least it will raise awareness among science educators of the different types of verbal and symbolic language used to communicate science, the demands they make on the students and the difficulties they could encounter that might necessitate remediation.

– Trevor R. Anderson, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Table of Contents
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Editor/Author Biographies
Felicia Zhang possesses a Master of Arts degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Melbourne, Australia; Holder of a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate (TEFLA) issued by the Royal Society of Arts, United Kingdom; and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Canberra. She is currently a senior lecturer in Applied Linguistics and Chinese at the University of Canberra, Australia. Her research interests include the use of active learning techniques in foreign language teaching, the use of technology in language teaching and acquisition, e-learning, integrating computer technology in curriculum design in education. She has just completed an Australian Learning and Teaching Council grant on science education which also won her and her team at the University of Canberra, Australia, a University of Canberra Teaching Award for Programs that Enhanced Learning. She published the “Handbook of research on computer-enhanced Language Acquisition and Learning” in 2008. She is also the 2003 winner of Australian Awards for University Teaching.
Brett Lidbury is an Associate Professor in Biomedical Sciences, the Faculty of Applied Science at the University of Canberra. Post-graduate studies encouraged a research path into immunology, cell biology, and the molecular biology of virus infection and disease. A/Professor Lidbury lectured and taught Molecular Biology and Genetics for 10 years, and recognized the barrier of molecular “foreign language” to student learning. With Dr. Felicia Zhang, funding was obtained to study language pedagogy in the science context, with the results of this study forming the foundation for a successful Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Project grant in 2007. In addition to the role of language, other empirical observations on student learning at a tertiary level are reported, particularly in terms of motivation.
Alice Richardson is an Assistant Professor in Statistics, in the Faculty of Information Sciences & Engineering at the University of Canberra. Her PhD research, carried out at the Australian National University, was focused on robust estimation and mixed linear models. Her main research area is now statistics education. She has published several papers on active learning in the statistics classroom, informed by her experiences teaching semester courses to undergraduates, postgraduates, and short courses to government employees. She has also collaborated with researchers on quantitative projects ranging from pattern recognition in pathology databases to change management in small businesses to drivers of learning outcomes in universities.
Brian Yates, following a PhD at the Australian National University, completed postdoctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Georgia (USA) before taking up an academic position at the University of Tasmania in 1989. Following his appointment as an academic in 1989, he has built up a strong reputation for teaching excellence. He has taught across a range of units in years one to four of undergraduate chemistry; involved in a number of competitively funded teaching development projects at the national (CAUT/CUTSD, ALTC) and state (UTAS) levels and has been rewarded with the 2006 Australian University Teaching Council Award for University Teaching Excellence in Physical Sciences. From 2006 to 2010, Brian was Head of the School of Chemistry at UTAS. In 2010 Brian was appointed as Discipline Scholar in Science for the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.
Michael Gardiner is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry at the University of Tasmania, Hobart. Prior to commencing this current role, he obtained B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. degrees from Griffith University. He then undertook postdoctoral research at Monash University, the Technical University of Munich, and the University of Sydney. His research is in the area of synthetic and catalytic applications of organometallic chemistry. He teaches into a range of undergraduate and postgraduate units covering a number of chemical sub-disciplines. He has been the first year chemistry coordinator since 2006 and has led the program through a number of administrative and teaching based changes in that time.
Adam Bridgeman is the Director of First Year Studies and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney. He has published 60 peer-reviewed articles. He was awarded the 2005 RSC Higher Education Teaching Award in the UK for his work on using the internet to enhance and support student learning. As a recent import to Australia, he is focusing on developing the effectiveness of service teaching and electronic resources in the School of Chemistry.
Jurgen Schulte is Lecturer in Physics and Advanced Materials at the University of Technology, Sydney. He has published 37 peer-reviewed articles, 11 peer-reviewed proceedings, edited 7 books, holds 4 industrial patents, and presented at over 30 international conferences. He is the Reviews Editor of CAL-laborate, a peer-reviewed journal focusing on Information Technology in tertiary teaching and learning for the sciences. He is currently undertaking a study on the efficacy of online assignment delivery in large service teaching classes with respect to student performance.
John Rodger is the Director of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment at the University of Newcastle. His area of research interest for nearly 40 years has been marsupial reproduction and the development of innovative biotechnological 'tools' for manipulation of marsupial fertility. This work has lead to over 80 peer reviewed publications. From 1995-2003 he was Director of the Australian Government funded Cooperative Research Centre for Conservation and Management of Marsupials, an Australian-New Zealand outcomes-focused collaborative joint venture. Professor Rodger has been teaching biology at first year university level and is interested in seeking new ways to effectively bridge the transition from school to university. The second major teaching interest is in preparing later stage students for the transition to the workplace, in particular, skills to meet the challenges of the application of students' science and technology knowledge and expertise in practical outcomes–focused situations.
Karen Mate is a part-time lecturer in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy (SBSP) at the University of Newcastle. Over the past three years she has taught and coordinated several first year undergraduate subjects in the areas of human physiology, biochemistry, and biomolecular analysis, and is also coordinator of the Peer Assisted Study program for SBSP. Her research interests are in the area of reproductive physiology and more recently, the diagnosis and management of dementia.
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Editorial Review Board
  • Roy Tasker, University of Western Sydney, Australia
  • Robert K. Norris, Monash University, Australia
  • Trevor R. Anderson, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa