ERIC Number: EJ856293
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Reference Count: 19
Science Inquiry, Academic Language, and Civic Engagement
Buxton, Cory A.
Democracy & Education, v18 n3 p17-22 2009
While some students have the opportunity to engage in the kinds of structured inquiry and real-world problem solving called for in the science education reform literature, many other students receive only a daily grind of note taking, end-of-chapter questions and sample test items from state assessments. The result is an engagement gap whereby some students come to see science as personally and directly meaningful to their lives and their futures while others come to see science as yet one more subject-area test serving as an obstacle to high school graduation. English language learners (ELL students) have been especially prone to suffer from this engagement gap because of two prevailing assumptions about teaching rigorous content to English learners. First is the assumption that ELL students must develop English language proficiency before they are able to engage in meaningful content-area learning such as science. The second assumption is that the best way to prepare ELL students (and others considered to be "at risk" for test performance) to succeed on high-stakes standardized tests is through drilling and practice with test-like items. Drawing upon examples from two projects with urban middle school students, the author highlights ways that rejecting these assumptions can reduce the engagement gap for ELL students. Both projects used a model of civic engagement to promote science inquiry and academic language development.
Descriptors: Academic Discourse, Problem Solving, Test Items, Standardized Tests, Second Language Learning, Educational Change, English (Second Language), Language Proficiency, Inquiry, Science Education, Middle School Students, Urban Schools
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A