Integrating language learning practices in first year science disciplines

Common Ground
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Learning, 2010, 17 (4), pp. 481 - 502
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One of the emerging issues is the changing nature and diversity of students in science. The project, `A cross-disciplinary approach to language support for first year students in the physical sciences, commenced in October, 2007 and was funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC), to address the language needs of a diverse student body by investigating and testing strategic approaches to learning and teaching in First Year sciences. This project was concerned with the acquisition of language specific to science (rather than for science students to write grammatically correct sentences or improve language use for ESL students) and the implicit teaching of meta-cognitive skills required in doing science. Eight strategies were employed in five universities and a number of positive outcomes have been obtained. Most noticeably, the demonstrable gains achieved by students at every university and in every discipline. Students perception of lecturers ability to teach has dramatically improved. The project is sustainable on student learning through affecting lecturer expertise in using these language strategies. It provides a successful and achievable model for sustainable professional development of academic staff.
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