Assessment of science literacy amongst ESL students (year 7, 2013) Macarthur Girls High School Staff Presentation Sham Nair, Brad Thomas, Natalie Aoun. 29.10.14 Purpose & Approach To determine if formal assessments could be used to determine cognitive development in science amongst ESL students. Six classes, but one teacher taught 2 classes – data for these two classes were merged into one; one class was taught by two teachers during the year. Three assessments were used for this study: Assessment 1 - laboratory exercise Assessment 3 - website creation and oral presentation Assessment 4 - yearly exam Assessment 1 – laboratory skills No difference in the abilities of students (in all classes) to conduct scientific experiments by following written instructions Mark distribution for assessment task 1. ANOVA and Tukey’s HSD did not indicate significant differences between any of the classes (p>0.05). Assessment 3 - communications (website creation, oral presentation) Students were assessed on their ability to communicate scientific ideas on natural resources. Students were asked to create a website outlining their findings Their website was presented as an oral presentation to their classmates An assessment rubric was provided Assessment 3 - communications (website creation, oral presentation) A The average mark for ESL class was significantly lower than all other classes Assessment 3: Results The results indicate that the ESL students performed poorly on this task when compared to the other classes The data did identify certain trends in the cognitive abilities of ESL students in this activity: While the ESL students fared poorly in areas such as describing factual information, research development and in writing a bibliography The ESL students ability to gather and evaluate resources for this task, as well as in their ability to use multimedia platforms for creating communications DID NOT differ significantly from the other classes. Assessment task 4 – yearly exam The examination questions did not involve the recollection of concepts and ideas discussed in the classroom, but were focused on higher-order thinking (Bloom’s taxonomy). The questions tested students’ abilities to interpret narrative and factual information, as well as their abilities to synthesize complex information (e.g. designing experiments). Assessment task 4 – yearly exam • ESSA-style exam • ESL student fared poorly overall The brackets above the columns indicate the significantly different pairwise comparisons using Tukey’s HSD post hoc test (a: p<0.01; b: p<0.05). Assessment 4:Literacy trends For example: Students were asked to design a scientific experiment to determine the effect of an additive on the boiling point of water. We found that the students were poor at describing how the experiment was to be conducted, but were good that identifying a suitable approach. One again, this highlights the fact the ESL students were equally competent (to their non-ESL counterparts) in conceptualization and identifying suitable avenues for investigation, but were let down by poor written communication skills. Recommendations Vocabulary development must be associated with thematic patterns. Most students memorise a definition but do not actually use it in the correct context in scientific discussions Learning cycle: experiments → teacher-guided reporting → individual writing (non-formal pieces of writing). Peer-assisted learning ( can use literacy profiles for this) Assessments: separation of language and content assessment; this involves students directly in the assessment process, i.e. tasks should be designed so language difficulties do not disadvantage students ESL support – ‘dumbing down’ should be consciously avoided The science literacy pyramid The research indicates ALL science students in Year 7 2013: Students’ comprehension of scientific narratives, evaluation and application proved to be a problem with all year 7 students. Where to now? What have we done with this research? The findings of this research would be highly beneficial to ALL students and parents of ESL students and those of Non ESL student backgrounds at our school Our goals: The research paper, literacy strategies and a sample of worksheets that will assist parents/caregivers and students to improve their scientific literacy, will be placed on the school website. This will allow complete access for parents/caregivers and students to use this improvement strategy Developed and identified specific strategies for the parents of ESL and Non ESL students at MGHS to implement with their daughters and enhance learning and understanding We are providing opportunities for parents to be directly involved in their daughters learning and to assist in further developing their children’s education and learning experiences Benefits to parents/caregivers/students and teachers Allowing opportunities to reinforce and connect teachers, parents and students in the learning process, i.e. all working together to strengthen students scientific literacy Assisting students in developing further their scientific literacy Supporting classroom teachers by providing strategies to assist their students literacy development in all subject areas reinforced by parent involvement Providing opportunities for parents to be directly involved in their daughters learning will minimize student disruption, aiding in classroom management and disengagement of students, therefore keeping them on task Providing a booklet to all parents at the next parent/teacher night outlining the specific strategies and worksheet examples they can use to help maximize their daughters learning and understanding Strategies to enhance literacy skills Reading Strategies Writing strategies Listening Strategies Listening continued Speaking The Future…… “In 2013, students’ comprehension of scientific narratives, evaluation and application proved to be a problem with all year 7 students” 2015 and beyond becomes: “Students’ comprehension of scientific narratives, evaluation and application has improved with all students at MGHS” Thank you for listening! The International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, has asked to publish our research. We are very honoured to be involved in this process. The End!