Literacy

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Afrodita Fuentes
SED 600
03/07/07
Current Event #1
Examining the Literacy Component of Science Literacy: 25 years of
language arts and science research
Summary
This article suggests that science literacy embodies two senses. The first is the fundamental
sense, which involves being a learned person and the abilities to speak, read, and write in and about
science. The second sense is the derived sense and involves knowing the body of knowledge in science.
Most of the information presented here is about the history of science literacy in the past twenty-five
years. In the first half of this period the language of science was believed to be mathematics. Later, it
was recognized that the language of science involved speaking, reading, writing, and listening.
According to the authors, a scientific literate person is one who distinguishes experts from the
uninformed, theory from dogma, data from myth and folklore, science from pseudo-science, evidence
from propaganda, and facts from fiction. One must recognize that science has its limitations and that it
uses sufficient evidence to support or reject claims. A scientific learned individual knows how to
analyze and process data, find many solutions to a single problem, and that science has personal, social,
political, judicial, ethical, and moral dimension.
Traditionally, oral language in the classroom was used by teachers to ask questions and evaluate
students while in more recent years questions are used to facilitate and scaffold student learning.
Reading used to emphasize textbooks and students’ readings skills. Now reading is encouraged to be
an interaction between the text and the reader and forces the reader to have a metacognitive awareness
of his own learning. Writing was used as an evaluation tool to look for knowledge and grammar errors.
Now writing is encouraged to include a purpose, content knowledge, and students’ thinking,
negotiating, reacting, reflecting, and revising skills. In addition, writing is used to learn. It has been
shown that writing provides opportunities to develop vocabulary, patterns of argumentation, and
higher-order thinking.
Nowadays, the constructivist model is well-supported for the teaching of science. In this
model, students are at the center of learning stage and have the ability to speak more through inquirybased activities and the access of prior knowledge which includes cultural background and prior
experience with the content. Studies are on their way to aid in the change of science teaching to take
into account the vital necessity of science literacy.
Analysis
A weakness of this article was the lengthy and convoluted explanations about certain sections,
such as in the current trends of reading and writing. It was a bit difficult to follow. Since this article
presented the history of science literacy for twenty-five years, the information was great in amount.
This article had many and reliable references. It also provided clear examples of what a literate person
should be able to do. It also took into account the multiethnic society in which we live and the
international relationships we maintain as driving force to become scientific literate and as a driving
force to scientifically educate the our citizens. To increase science literacy in the classroom, a number
of techniques were suggested, including techniques that invited the access of prior knowledge that
comes from formal education and everyday experience molded by culture and geography.
The authors of this article encourage recognize the existence of model teachers and classrooms
in scientific literacy. At the same time they encourage the use of research to document this work, and
make sure research in leading or encouraging practice of effective findings for science literacy. They
also recommend teacher education programs to present new teachers with techniques to increase
science literacy in the classroom as well as provide these teachers with opportunities to implement and
practice such techniques in the classroom. They urge more seasoned teachers to infuse these strategies
in their lessons. I also agree in that the constructivist model of education uses the inquiry-based and
student-centered approaches; these approaches if done correctly should increase student curiosity and
interest in seeking knowledge about science in their everyday lives.
Reflection
In an age of rapid global change, we (all citizens, especially scientists) must learn quickly and
communicate effectively. Unfortunately, many people are not well educated to meet the demands this
rapid change. Global change has been the very result of quick advances in science and technology.
Those scientist that contributed greatly to this global change, obviously communicated effectively. The
way scientists communicate needs to be sensitive to the audience. Sometimes scientists communicate
to other scientists; in this case the language is more academic and perhaps persuasive. Scientists that
communicate with individuals out of the field of science (for financial support and political support)
most likely communicate in less scientific language.
In a multiethnic society science is communicated in a variety of ways for the regular person: in
TV, in newspapers, in entertainment, in medical centers, and others. The individuals presenting science
are not necessary experts and are not necessarily altruistic individuals. This science may be misleading
and misinterpreted, that is why the receiver of such science must be scientific literate. To make every
citizen of this world literate is a great challenge, and it is not being met. To make every citizen of this
country is still a great job and it is even greater to do it without the proper policies that govern our
educational system. In addition, the authors point out that educators are not receiving proper training
to implement strategies that produce a scientific literate student. This means that educators must do
their own learning or use their common sense to embed literacy in their teaching.
I attended a science literacy network a few years ago, where we learned to use a few techniques
to use science textbooks. I believe this was mostly to decode the material in textbooks and to
comprehend the material. But scientific literacy is not just that; it is comprehending that science is all
over our environment every minute and that we enjoy the commodities (a rich abundance and variety
of foods, cosmetics, media, etc.) we have, in this country for example, because of the advancement of
science. A scientific literate person is keeping up with is keeping up with science because science
continues to advance and become more complex.
After reading this article and putting some ideas in perspective I realize that I need to be more
aware in using techniques that will help my students be more scientific literate. Science is still
advancing quickly and, especially the biological sciences, and it will more closely affect the individual in
many ways, decisions they have to make in health care, food choices, career choices, and environmental
related choices. As an educator of high school I have the responsibility of providing young adults
information that will serve as the foundation to seek more information or make decisions with
whatever limited information they have. I rather help my students become more incline to look for
more information that will help them make more informed decisions.
Reference
Yore, L. Bisanz, G., & Hand, B. (2003) Examining the Literacy Component of Science
Literacy: 25 years of language arts and science research. Journal of Science Education, 25(6),
pp. 689-725.
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