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ERIC Number: ED549616
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 163
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2672-8044-2
Understanding the Role of Academic Language on Conceptual Understanding in an Introductory Materials Science and Engineering Course
Kelly, Jacquelyn
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University
Students may use the technical engineering terms without knowing what these words mean. This creates a language barrier in engineering that influences student learning. Previous research has been conducted to characterize the difference between colloquial and scientific language. Since this research had not yet been applied explicitly to engineering, conclusions from the area of science education were used instead. Various researchers outlined strategies for helping students acquire scientific language. However, few examined and quantified the relationship it had on student learning. A systemic functional linguistics framework was adopted for this dissertation which is a framework that has not previously been used in engineering education research. This study investigated how engineering language proficiency influenced conceptual understanding of introductory materials science and engineering concepts. To answer the research questions about engineering language proficiency, a convenience sample of forty-one undergraduate students in an introductory materials science and engineering course was used. All data collected was integrated with the course. Measures included the Materials Concept Inventory, a written engineering design task, and group observations. Both systemic functional linguistics and mental models frameworks were utilized to interpret data and guide analysis. A series of regression analyses were conducted to determine if engineering language proficiency predicts group engineering term use, if conceptual understanding predicts group engineering term use, and if conceptual understanding predicts engineering language proficiency. Engineering academic language proficiency was found to be strongly linked to conceptual understanding in the context of introductory materials engineering courses. As the semester progressed, this relationship became even stronger. The more engineering concepts students are expected to learn, the more important it is that they are proficient in engineering language. However, exposure to engineering terms did not influence engineering language proficiency. These results stress the importance of engineering language proficiency for learning, but warn that simply exposing students to engineering terms does not promote engineering language proficiency. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A