Building on Teachers' Knowledge About Students' Language-related Challenges in Science

Project Number
OER 65/12 SLH

Project Duration
April 2013 - March 2016


The overall objective of this project is to examine and build on primary school teachers' competencies in diagnosing and addressing students' language-related challenges in science classrooms. The impetus for this project stems from the significant role that language plays in the teaching and learning of science, and the observation that science teachers pay little explicit attention to the language issues in their classrooms. This project consists of two components: (i) a baseline study to examine the teachers' existing competencies in diagnosing and addressing students' language-related challenges; and (ii) an intervention study to develop interventions that further enhance teachers' competencies in these areas. A case study approach is undertaken to examine the competencies of a group of primary science teachers (between 2 to 4) teaching the same level of students from a neighbourhood co-ed primary school which has a diverse mix of students with varying English proficiency levels. The development of the individual teachers in their abilities to diagnose and address students' language-related challenges would constitute individual case studies that inform the overall project as a whole. During the first phase of the project, a series of workshops would be held to examine the initial competencies of teachers and to design interventions that build on these competencies. Riding on the lesson study structure that pre-exists in the participating school, the second phase involves the research team working collaboratively with the teachers to design a research lesson that integrates appropriate language and literacy strategies in support of science learning. Besides examining for any changes to teachers' competencies post-intervention, the project also seeks to understand the challenges teachers encounter in their attempt to integrate these strategies. The findings, and their implications in the form of guiding principles or framework, are anticipated to inform future research program and the development of professional developmental program with similar goals.

Research Themes

Funding Source

Related Links
SingTeach Issue 50 (2014): Finding the Right Words
ReEd Vol 11 (2013) Understanding the Language of Science

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