Understanding How Teachers Design Lessons in Response to the Language Demands of Science

Project Number
OER 16/14 SLH

Project Duration
January 2015 - June 2017


In this two-year intervention study, we seek to understand the process undertaken by science teachers in designing and implementing lessons in response to the language demands of science learning. Specifically, this study will examine: (i) the kinds of language demands teachers identify as of relevance to a particular science topic; (ii) how teachers integrate new learning activities and resources into their lessons (i.e. the lesson design and implementation process); (iii) their perception of the lesson design and implementation process; and (iv) the students' learning outcomes at the end of the intervention. Towards these goals, we will collect multiple data sources (including lesson planning sessions, teacher interviews, conceptual test, and lesson observations) for the investigation. The impetus for this project stems from the significant role that language plays in the teaching and learning of science, and the general impression that science teachers pay little explicit attention to the language issues in their classrooms. A case study approach will be undertaken to examine the lesson design process undertaken by a group of lower secondary science teachers (between 2 to 4) from a neighbourhood co-educational government school. During the first phase of the project, interviews will be conducted to understand how teachers perceive and respond to language issues in the science classrooms. Concurrently, weekly lesson planning sessions will be held together with the teachers for half a year to co-plan the lessons on a selected science topic with the aim of addressing students' language-related challenges in mind. The initial lesson planning sessions serve to provide data for understanding the kinds of language demands identified by teachers. In the second phase of the project, relevant and innovative learning activities that address these language demands will be introduced by the research team. During this phase, lesson observations and teacher interviews provide data for understanding the teachers' experiences and their perception of the lesson planning and implementation process. Student data in the form of conceptual test provide information on the learning gains at the end of the intervention. The multiple data sources collected will be subjected to a combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses. The project, as a whole, is likely to benefit the teacher and student participants in bringing about a greater awareness of the role of language in science learning and contribute towards new knowledge in the area of integrating language and science teaching.

Funding Source

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