Literacy skills in science learning among linguistically diverse students

Okhee Lee, Sandra H. Fradd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the increasing diversity in the nation's schools, literacy plays a critical role for students simultaneously learning English as a new language and developing the knowledge of academic content. This study focuses on two aspects of literacy related to science performance: (a) interpretations of science task cards depicting a series of activities; and (b) written language samples summarizing science tasks. Three groups of elementary students and teachers participated: (a) monolingual English; (b) bilingual Spanish; and (c) bilingual Haitian Creole. The study included student dyads and teachers of the same language, culture, and gender. Three science tasks included: weather phenomena; simple machines; and buoyancy. While literacy played an important role for all three groups, the results highlighted the specific difficulties that students experienced in developing and expressing their understandings of science activities. The findings underscore the need to consider the multiple roles that literacy plays in science learning in order to provide instruction responsive to the needs of students learning English as a new language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-671
Number of pages21
JournalScience Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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