Science Literacy: Demystifying Texts in Science Classrooms
Hanrahan, Mary U. (1997) Science Literacy: Demystifying Texts in Science Classrooms. In Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference, 30 November - 4 December, 1997, Brisbane, Australia.
The discourse of formalised science in classrooms has often been criticised for alienating students and preventing them from learning in a way which would help them to understand their physical world and become citizens empowered to participate in democratic processes. In the research study being reported here, a Year 8 science teacher and I attempted to respond to students' difficulties in learning science, by introducing activities designed to help demystify tasks which often confounded students who were mainly from lower socio-economic status backgrounds and who tended to have poor academic literacy skills. We found that when these activities took place in a trusting environment where students' concerns and feelings were respected, then language, teacher-student relationships and curriculum practices were all transformed to some extent to produce a learning environment in which students became more actively involved in the curriculum and in their own learning. There are many theoretical and practical implications of these findings.
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