The Hidden Problem of Language in Teaching Chemistry at ThirdLevel

Ryan, Marie C. and Childs, Peter E. (2013) The Hidden Problem of Language in Teaching Chemistry at ThirdLevel. In: 5th Eurovariety in Chemistry Education, University of Limerick, 3rd – 5th July 2013. “Smarter Teaching-Better Learning, Limerick, Ireland..

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Abstract

The language of science is a problem that students face at both second and third level education. Wellington and Osborne (2001) claimed that “language is a major barrier (if not the major barrier) to most students in learning science” (p. 2). Science has its own language and difficulties presented in acquiring and understanding the language act as impediments for many students. However, the work of Cassels & Johnstone (1980 and 1985) and Johnstone (1988) has indicated that the problem lies not so much in the technical language of science, but in the vocabulary and usage of normal English in a science context. Students and teacher see familiar words and phrases which they both ‘understand’, but the assumption that both understandings are identical is just not tenable (Barber, 1962; Sager et al., 1980; Kennedy & Bolitho, 1984). To date in Ireland, little research has been conducted into the role which language plays in the teaching and learning of science at third level, or on the transition from second level. This study is a part of a larger project looking at the problem of language in the teaching and learning of science in Ireland. It follows a study which identified the specific problem areas of language in science teaching of a diverse cohort of second-level Junior Cycle pupils of science. The purpose of this paper is to identify student teacher’s understanding of the nontechnical words that are used in the teaching of science and also to identify the specific problem areas of language in science teaching and learning.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Depositing User: National Forum
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2015 18:10
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2015 07:44
URI: http://eprints.teachingandlearning.ie/id/eprint/3642

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