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Developing language and literacy in science

Added 19 Nov 2018
Science test tubes.jpg

Research has found that the strongest factor affecting secondary pupils’ science scores is their literacy levels. Poor literacy skills can affect how well a pupil is able to understand scientific vocabulary and to prepare scientific reports. This suggests that strategies that develop pupils’ reading comprehension could have a positive impact on their achievement in science.

Recently, the Education Endowment Foundation published Improving Secondary Science (2018) which highlights five areas for developing literacy in science:

  • Promote metacognitive talk and dialogue in the classroom
  • Carefully select the vocabulary to teach and focus on the ‘most tricky’ words
  • Show the links between words and their composite parts
  • Use activities to engage pupils with reading scientific text and help them to comprehend it
  • Support pupils to develop their scientific writing skills

The resource includes:

This membership resource provides subject disciplinary theory as well as evidence-based practical strategies. It supports literacy coordinators and science teachers to implement actions recommended by recent research and guidance.

Sample practical activities include Directed Activities Related to Text (DARTS) which encourage closer and deeper reading and strategies for direct vocabulary instruction.