Cross-disciplinary language changes in 4th graders as a predictor of the quality of written scientific explanation
Keywords:cross-disciplinary language, disciplinary writing, scientific explanations, school genre
Upper elementary students face conceptual and linguistic challenges when writing in science. One way to scaffold science writing is the explicit teaching of cross-disciplinary language. Limited research has explored the dynamics of these language changes in instructional contexts. This study examines the micro-developmental changes in cross-disciplinary language skills and their contributions to the quality of 191 science explanations written by 65 fourth graders that participated in language and literacy-based instruction. The instruction’s pedagogical design was focused on writing-to-learn and learning-to-write the scientific explanation genre. Each student wrote an initial, a scaffolded draft, and a final explanation that was scored for scientific quality and productive cross-disciplinary language skills. Students’ prior and final scientific knowledge was also measured. The results showed large instruction size effects on the scientific quality (0.71), productive cross-disciplinary language skills (0.46), and explanation length (0.64). Stepwise regression analysis showed that prior and final science knowledge and productive cross-disciplinary language skills significantly predict the quality of the final explanation (R2 = .704, F(11,38) = 9.03, p < .000). This research offers evidence of the dynamic relationships between language, literacy, and science in contexts of explicit cross-disciplinary language instruction for disciplinary literacy and learning.
Aparici, M., Cuberos, R., Salas, N., & Rosado, E. (2021). Linguistic indicators of text quality in analytical texts: Developmental changes and sensitivity to pedagogical work (Indicadores lingüísticos de la calidad textual en los textos analíticos: cambios evolutivos y sensibilidad al trabajo pedagógico). Journal of Education and Development, 44(1), 9-46. https://doi.org/10.1080/02103702.2020.1848093
Avalos, M., Gómez, M., Gort, M., & Secada, W. (2017). "Hey! Today I will tell you about the water cycle!" Variations of language and organizational features in third-grade science explanation writing. The Elementary School Journal, 118(1), 149–176. https://doi.org/10.1086/692987
Bajtin, M. (1982). Estética de la creación verbal [Aesthetics of verbal creation]. Siglo XXI.
Bolger, N., & Laurenceau, J-.P. (2013). Intensive longitudinal methods. An introduction to diary and experience sampling research. The Guilford Press.
Braaten, M., & Windschitl, M. (2011). Working toward a stronger conceptualization of scientific explanation for science education. Science Education, 95(4), 639–669. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.20449
Brisk, M. E. (2015). Engaging students in academic literacies: genre-based pedagogy for K-5 classrooms. Routledge.
Cabello, V. M., & Sommer, M. (2020). Andamios de retiro gradual. Parte 1: visibilización del pensamiento en la construcción de explicaciones científicas escolares. Estudios Pedagógicos, 46(1), 257–267. https://doi.org/10.4067/S0718-07052020000100257
Cervetti, G. N., Barber, J., Dorph, R., Pearson, P. D., & Goldschmidt, P. G. (2012). The impact of an integrated approach to science and literacy in elementary school classrooms. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(5), 631–658. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.21015
Chen, Y. C., Hand, B., & McDowell, L. (2013). The effects of writing-to-learn activities on elementary students’ conceptual understanding: Learning about force and motion through writing to older peers. Science Education, 97(5), 745–771. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21067
de Oliveira, L. C., & Lan, S. W. (2014). Writing science in an upper elementary classroom: A genre-based approach to teaching English language learners. Journal of Second Language Writing, 25(1), 23–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2014.05.001
Evagorou, M., & Osborne, J. (2010). The role of language in the learning and teaching of science. In J. Osborne & J. Dillon (Eds.), Good practice in Science teaching (pp. 135–157). McGraw Hill. https://doi.org/10.2/JQUERY.MIN.JS
Fang, Z., Cao, P., & Murray, N. (2020). Language and meaning making: Register choices in seventh- and ninth-grade students’ factual writing. Linguistics and Education, 56, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.linged.2020.100798
Fang, Z., Gresser, V., Cao, P., & Zheng, J. (2021). Nominal complexities in school Children’s informational writing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2021.100958
Fang, Z., & Park, J. (2020). Adolescents’ use of academic language in informational writing. Reading and Writing, 33(1), 97–119. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-019-09937-8
Figueroa, J., Meneses, A., & Chandia, E. (2018). Academic language and the quality of written arguments and explanations of Chilean 8th graders. Reading and Writing, 31(3), 703–723. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-017-9806-5
Fitts, S., Gross, L., & Ramirez, B. (2020). "We observed that the magnetic field is stronger than gravity": Exploring linguistically diverse fourth-grade students’ written explanations in science notebooks. Linguistics and Education, 56, 100809. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.linged.2020.100809
Graham, S., Kiuhara, S. A., & MacKay, M. (2020). The effects of writing on learning in Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 90(2), 179–226. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654320914744
Hand, B. (2017). Exploring the role of writing in science: A 25-year journey. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 25(3), 16–23.
Hand, B., Gunel, M., & Ulu, C. (2009). Sequencing embedded multimodal representations in a writing to learn approach to the teaching of electricity. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(3), 225–247. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.20282
Hand, B., Hohenshell, L., & Prain, V. (2007). Examining the effect of multiple writing tasks on Year 10 biology students’ understandings of cell and molecular biology concepts. Instructional Science, 35(4), 343–373. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-006-9012-3
Hsu, Y. S., Lai, T. L., & Hsu, W. H. (2015). A design model of distributed scaffolding for inquiry-based learning. Research in Science Education, 45(2), 241–273. https://doi.org/10.1007/S11165-014-9421-2/TABLES/4
Huerta, M., & Garza, T. (2019). Writing in science: Why, how, and for whom? A systematic literature review of 20 years of intervention research (1996–2016). Educational Psychology Review, 31(3), 533–570. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-019-09477-1
Huerta, M., Lara-Alecio, R., Tong, F., & Irby, B. J. (2014). Developing and validating a science notebook rubric for fifth-grade non-mainstream students. International Journal of Science Education, 36(11), 1849–1870. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2013.879623
Huerta, M., Tong, F., Irby, B. J., & Lara-Alecio, R. (2016). Measuring and comparing academic language development and conceptual understanding via science notebooks. The Journal of Educational Research, 109(5), 503–517. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220671.2014.992582
Klein, P. D., & Unsworth, L. (2014). The logogenesis of writing to learn: A systemic functional perspective. Linguistics and Education, 26(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.linged.2013.12.003
Lee, O. (2020). Science and language instructional shifts with second-language learners. Asia-Pacific Science Education, 6(2), 263–284. https://doi.org/10.1163/23641177-bja10005
Lee, O., Llosa, L., Grapin, S., Haas, A., & Goggins, M. (2019). Science and language integration with English learners: A conceptual framework guiding instructional materials development. Science Education, 103(2), 317–337. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21498
Lesterhuis, M., Verhavert, S., Coertjens, L., Donche, V. & De Maeyer, S. (2017). Comparative judgement as a promising alternative to score competences. In G. Ion & E. Cano (Eds.), Innovative practices for higher education assessment and measurement (pp. 120-140). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
McNeill, K. L., & Krajcik, J. (2012). Supporting grade 5-8 students in constructing explanations in science: the claim, evidence, and reasoning framework for talk and writing. Pearson Education.
McNeill, K. L., Lizotte, D. J., Krajcik, J., & Marx, R. W. (2006). Supporting students’ construction of scientific explanations by fading scaffolds in instructional materials. The Journal of the Larning Sciences, 15(2), 153–191. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327809jls1502_1
Meneses, A., Hugo, E., Montenegro, M., Valenzuela, A., & Ruiz, M. (2018). Explicaciones científicas: propuestas para la enseñanza del lenguaje académico. Boletín de Lingüística, 30(49–50), 134–157.
Meneses, A., Uccelli, P., Santelices, M. V., Ruiz, M., Acevedo, D., & Figueroa, J. (2018). Academic language as a predictor of reading comprehension in monolingual Spanish-speaking readers: Evidence from Chilean early adolescents. Reading Research Quarterly, 53(2), 223–247. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.192
Moje, E. (2015). Doing and teaching disciplinary literacy with adolescent learners: A social and cultural enterprise. Harvard Educational Review, 85(2), 254–278. https://doi.org/10.17763/0017-8055.85.2.254
Myhill, D., & Chen, H. (2020). Developing writers in primary and secondary school years. In Developing Writers Across the Primary and Secondary Years. Routledge.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2022). Science and engineering in preschool through elementary grades: The brilliance of children and the strengths of educators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26215.
National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states.
Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Osborne, J., & Patterson, A. (2011). Scientific argument and explanation: A necessary distinction? Science Education, 95(4), 627-638. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.20438
Phillips Galloway, E., Qin, W., Uccelli, P., & Barr, C. (2020). The role of cross disciplinary academic language skills in disciplinary, source based writing: Investigating the role of core academic language skills in science summarization for middle grade writers. Reading and Writing, 33(1), 13–44. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-019-09942-x
Phillips Galloway, E., & Uccelli, P. (2019). Beyond reading comprehension: exploring the additional contribution of Core Academic Language Skills to early adolescents’ written summaries. Reading and Writing, 32(3), 729–759. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-018-9880-3
R Core Team (2021). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. URL https://www.R-project.org/
Rappa, N. A., & Tang, K.-S. (2018). Integrating disciplinary-specific genre structure in discourse strategies to support disciplinary literacy. Linguistics and Education, 43, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.linged.2017.12.003
Romero-Contreras, S., Silva-Maceda, G., & Snow, C. E. (2021). Academic vocabulary and language skills: Predictors of reading comprehension of upper elementary and middle school students in Mexico. Pensamiento Educativo: Revista de Investigación Educacional Latinoamericana, 58(2), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.7764/PEL.58.2.2021.4
Rose, D., & Martin, J. (2012). Learning to write, reading to learn. Genre, knowledge and pedagogy in the Sydney school. Equinox.
Ruiz-Primo, M. A., Li, M., Ayala, C., & Shavelson, R. F. (2004). Evaluating students’ science notebooks as an assessment tool. International Journal of Science Education, 26(12), 1477–1506. https://doi.org/10.1080/0950069042000177299
Schleppegrell, M. (2004). The language of schooling: A functional linguistics perspective. Lawrence Erlbaum.
Seah, L. H. (2016). Understanding the conceptual and language challenges encountered by grade 4 students when writing scientific explanations. Research in Science Education, 46(3), 413–437. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-015-9464-z
Seah, L. H., Clarke, D. J., & Hart, C. E. (2011). Understanding students’ language use about expansion through analyzing their lexicogrammatical resources. Science Education, 95(5), 852–876. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.20448
Sommer, M., & Cabello, V. M. (2020). Andamios de retiro gradual. Parte 2: apoyos a la construcción de explicaciones en ciencia primaria. Estudios Pedagógicos, 46(1), 269–284. https://doi.org/10.4067/S0718-07052020000100269
Tang, K. S. (2016). Constructing scientific explanations through premise–reasoning–outcome (PRO): An exploratory study to scaffold students in structuring written explanations. International Journal of Science Education, 38(9), 1415–1440. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2016.1192309
Uccelli, P. (2019). Learning the language for school literacy. In V. Grøver, P. Uccelli, M. L. Rowe, & E. Lieven. (Eds.), Learning through Language (pp. 95–109). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316718537.010
Uccelli, P., Deng, Z., Phillips Galloway, E., & Qin, W. (2019). The role of language skills in mid-adolescents’ science summaries. Journal of Literacy Research, 51(3), 357–380. https://doi.org/10.1177/1086296X19860206
Uccelli, P., Phillips Galloway, E., Barr, C. D., Meneses, A., & Dobbs, C. L. (2015). Beyond vocabulary: Exploring cross-disciplinary academic-language proficiency and its association with reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(3), 337–356. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.104
Uccelli, P., Phillips Galloway, E., & Qin, W. (2020). The language for school literacy: Widening the lens on language and reading relations. In E. Moje, P. Afflerbach, P. Enciso, & N. K. Lesaux (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research: Vol. V (pp. 155–179). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315676302-9
van der Steen, S., Steenbeek, H., Den Hartigh, R., & van Geert, P. (2019). The link between microdevelopment and long-term learning trajectories in science learning. Human Development, 64, 4-32. https://doi.org/10.1159/000501431
Wickham, H. (2016). ggplot2: Elegant graphics for data analysis. Springer.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Alejandra Meneses, Maximiliano Montenegro, Daniela Acevedo, Javiera Figueroa, Evelyn Hugo
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.