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Science Literacy: Demystifying Texts in Science Classrooms

Australian Association for Research in Education
Publication Date
  • 200405 Language In Culture And Society (Sociolinguistics)
  • 130212 Science Technology And Engineering Curriculum And Pedagogy
  • 200399 Language Studies Not Elsewhere Classified
  • 200299 Cultural Studies Not Elsewhere Classified
  • 130106 Secondary Education
  • Science Education
  • Teaching
  • Learning
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Language Teaching
  • Literacy
  • Science Literacy
  • Design
  • Economics
  • Linguistics
  • Political Science


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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