Merging fact with fiction : a study of year 9 students' developing scientific literacy through the writing of hybridised scientific narratives on a socioscientific issue

Tomas, Louisa (2010) Merging fact with fiction : a study of year 9 students' developing scientific literacy through the writing of hybridised scientific narratives on a socioscientific issue. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


International assessments of student science achievement, and growing evidence of students' waning interest in school science, have ensured that the development of scientific literacy continues to remain an important educational priority. Furthermore, researchers have called for teaching and learning strategies to engage students in the learning of science, particularly in the middle years of schooling. This study extends previous national and international research that has established a link between writing and learning science. Specifically, it investigates the learning experiences of eight intact Year 9 science classes as they engage in the writing of short stories that merge scientific and narrative genres (i.e., hybridised scientific narratives) about the socioscientific issue of biosecurity. This study employed a triangulation mixed methods research design, generating both quantitative and qualitative data, in order to investigate three research questions that examined the extent to which the students' participation in the study enhanced their scientific literacy; the extent to which the students demonstrated conceptual understanding of related scientific concepts through their written artefacts and in interviews about the artefacts; and the extent to which the students' participation in the project influenced their attitudes toward science and science learning. Three aspects of scientific literacy were investigated in this study: conceptual science understandings (a derived sense of scientific literacy), the students' transformation of scientific information in written stories about biosecurity (simple and expanded fundamental senses of scientific literacy), and attitudes toward science and science learning. The stories written by students in a selected case study class (N=26) were analysed quantitatively using a series of specifically-designed matrices that produce numerical scores that reflect students' developing fundamental and derived senses of scientific literacy. All students (N=152) also completed a Likert-style instrument (i.e., BioQuiz), pretest and posttest, that examined their interest in learning science, science self-efficacy, their perceived personal and general value of science, their familiarity with biosecurity issues, and their attitudes toward biosecurity. Socioscientific issues (SSI) education served as a theoretical framework for this study. It sought to investigate an alternative discourse with which students can engage in the context of SSI education, and the role of positive attitudes in engaging students in the negotiation of socioscientific issues. Results of the study have revealed that writing BioStories enhanced selected aspects of the participants' attitudes toward science and science learning, and their awareness and conceptual understanding of issues relating to biosecurity. Furthermore, the students' written artefacts alone did not provide an accurate representation of the level of their conceptual science understandings. An examination of these artefacts in combination with interviews about the students' written work provided a more comprehensive assessment of their developing scientific literacy. These findings support extensive calls for the utilisation of diversified writing-to-learn strategies in the science classroom, and therefore make a significant contribution to the writing-to-learn science literature, particularly in relation to the use of hybridised scientific genres. At the same time, this study presents the argument that the writing of hybridised scientific narratives such as BioStories can be used to complement the types of written discourse with which students engage in the negotiation of socioscientific issues, namely, argumentation, as the development of positive attitudes toward science and science learning can encourage students' participation in the discourse of science. The implications of this study for curricular design and implementation, and for further research, are also discussed.

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ID Code: 34404
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Ritchie, Stephen, Bland, Derek, Lee, Kar, & Rigano, Donna
Keywords: scientific literacy, writing-to-learn, socioscientific issues, mixed methods, conceptual understanding, interest
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 08 Sep 2010 04:56
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2013 08:11

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