A Successful Collaboration Between Language Arts and Science

A Successful Collaboration Between Language Arts and Science

Felicia Zhang (University of Canberra, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-062-0.ch009
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Abstract

This chapter contains findings from the preceding chapters in r the project addressing language difficulties in science education in large classes.
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This Project Specifically Aimed To

  • target the issue of language in science and suggest ways of solving some of the language issues by importing techniques and strategies frequently used in the teaching of foreign languages;

  • create innovative online teaching modules which directly address the language difficulties in the targeted disciplines in science

  • expand and reshape the current teaching approach to include a language focus in the teaching of science in the face to face mode;

  • increase student awareness of the language used in the targeted disciplines by presenting student and staff insights of the particular types of language used in that context;

  • rigorously evaluate the implementation of these learning strategies on student learning to enable their transportability to other teaching contexts in higher education in Australia.

A number of positive outcomes were obtained. These are:

  • Students demonstrated better achievement scores at every university and in almost all disciplines;

  • The failure rates for almost all subjects in the disciplines decreased;

  • Passing, credit, distinction and high distinction rates in each discipline increased dramatically;

  • Students’ perceptions of lecturers’ abilities to teach were dramatically improved.

For example, in the discipline of physics, even within the limit of a 3 hour lecture plus a bi-weekly workshop model, integrating language learning practices in first year physics has shown to have some merit especially where there was a fairly large proportion of students coming from a non-English speaking background. Students’ grades improved for students who participated in using the language strategies. In addition, their perception of staff’s ability to teach also dramatically improved. This trend is similarly observed in other disciplines as well. In the physics program at the University of Technology, Sydney, analyses of the overall performance of students in the group that used clickers was an average 15% better than their peers who did not use clickers as formative assessment.

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