Science and Technology Instruction for English Learners
National Science Foundation (NSF)
research and development project addresses three critical problems facing
science and technology education in the U.S.
students, compared to their counterparts in most other developed countries and
to the requirements of a 21st-century economy, demonstrate insufficient
- Our gaps in scientific
literacy are especially acute; though our high-achieving students perform
approximately as well as students in other developed countries, our
low-achieving students perform significantly worse.
- There are serious gaps
in young people's access to and use of technology, with, for example,
non-English speaking Hispanics suffering dramatically lower access to computer
and the Internet.
The goals of this multi-method study are to gather baseline data and first-year implementation
data about an innovative program in a Southern California school district aimed
at improving science instruction and technological literacy. The program will
use low-cost netbook computers and specialized software among a group of
largely Hispanic fifth and sixth grade students, approximately half of whom are
English language learners.
The program is designed to achieve the following
- Engaging Students in Interactive Learning
- Supporting Student Writing About Science
- Promoting Technological Literacy
through Sustainable Individual Access
- Developing Teachers
- Improving Performance of
English Learners and Other At-Risk Students
Research questions are as
- How do students who
participate in the program improve in the access to, use of, and self-perceived
proficiency with technology, as well as an interest in future studies or
careers in technology or science, compared to a comparable group of students
who don't participate in the program, and how is this mediated by socioeconomic
status, ethnicity, and English learner status?
- What impact does the
program have on academic achievement in science as measured by performance on
the fifth grade California Standards Test in Science (CSTS)?
- How do students who
participate in the program improve in writing about science, and how is this
mediated by socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and English learner status?
- What kinds of gains in
knowledge of and use of technology for instruction do teachers in the program
experience, and how does this compare to teachers who are not in the program?
This study will help us
understand the types of tools, approaches, and methods can best help Hispanics
and English learners develop their knowledge, communication skills, and
attitudes in science and technology.