Assessment of science literacy amongst ESL students (year 7, 2013)

Assessment of science literacy
amongst ESL students
(year 7, 2013)
Macarthur Girls High School Staff Presentation
Sham Nair, Brad Thomas,
Natalie Aoun.
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
 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
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)
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
 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.
 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
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
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
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!

similar documents