Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Academic language impedes students' ability to learn science, expert argues

Date:
July 24, 2010
Source:
Strategic Education Research Partnership
Summary:
Middle and high school students who read fluently in English class and on the Web may find that they cannot understand their science texts. And their science teachers may be ill-prepared to guide them in reading the academic language in which science information is presented. A professor of education and expert on language and literacy development makes the case that students need to be taught academic language to learn science and other subjects.

With a little guidance, educators can help students learn to read and understand the complex language of science texts, according to Catherine E. Snow of Harvard University and the SERP Institute.

Middle and high school students who read fluently in English class and on the Web may find that they cannot understand their science texts. And their science teachers may be ill prepared to guide them in reading the academic language in which science information is presented. In "Academic Language and the Challenge of Reading for Learning About Science," an article to be published in Science on April 23, 2010, Catherine E. Snow, a professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and the Boston research director for the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP), makes the case that students need to be taught academic language in order to learn science and other subjects.

Word Generation, a SERP program developed under Snow's leadership, presents middle school students with all-purpose academic words embedded in interesting topics and provides materials for teachers of science, mathematics, and social studies to extend the academic language focus across the curriculum and throughout the week. "The goal is for students to be able to read academic material on their own, but many will need some help through programs like Word Generation to get to that point," said Snow.

In addition to having its own specialized vocabulary, academic language is more concise, using complex grammatical structures to express complicated ideas in as few words as possible. This is especially true when it comes to scientific writing. Students who prefer reading Web content over books have fewer opportunities to learn this language on their own.

Snow is helping teachers solve everyday learning problems that occur in classrooms thanks to a unique collaboration between the nation's top research and development talent and education professionals created by the SERP Institute. "By recruiting highly distinguished scholars like Catherine Snow, SERP has succeeded in making the difficult and often unglamorous work of tackling critical problems of everyday practice a respected endeavor," said Suzanne Donovan, SERP executive director.

The SERP collaboration is thriving at the William B. Rogers Middle School in Boston, which serves as a showcase for other schools in the district and beyond. With Word Generation now firmly embedded in everyday practice, academic language is taught systematically by teachers across the spectrum. "Word Generation is not a program to have kids memorize words and their meanings each week," said Principal Andrew Bott. "It is a program about how to look at words, to consider them in different forms, to access them across content areas, to determine different meanings of words depending on the content area, and to use a more sophisticated vocabulary on their own," he said.

The academic language project that resulted in Word Generation was developed in the SERP-Boston field site, and supported by the Carnegie Corporation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Spencer Foundation. The web site supporting the program was developed with funding from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Inc.

For more information and to download the program for free, go to www.serpinstitute.org/wordgeneration


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Strategic Education Research Partnership. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Strategic Education Research Partnership. "Academic language impedes students' ability to learn science, expert argues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422153758.htm>.
Strategic Education Research Partnership. (2010, July 24). Academic language impedes students' ability to learn science, expert argues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422153758.htm
Strategic Education Research Partnership. "Academic language impedes students' ability to learn science, expert argues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422153758.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins