A comparison of bilingual education and generalist teachers' approaches to scientific biliteracy

Date
2010
Authors
Garza, Esther
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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if educators were capitalizing on bilingual learners' use of their biliterate abilities to acquire scientific meaning and discourse that would formulate a scientific biliterate identity. Mixed methods were used to explore teachers' use of biliteracy and Funds of Knowledge (Moll, L., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N., 1992; Gonzales, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) from the students' Latino heritage while conducting science inquiry. The research study explored four constructs that conceptualized scientific biliteracy. The four constructs include science literacy, science biliteracy, reading comprehension strategies and students' cultural backgrounds. There were 156 4th-5th grade bilingual and general education teachers in South Texas that were surveyed using the Teacher Scientific Biliteracy Inventory (TSBI) and five teachers' science lessons were observed. Qualitative findings revealed that a variety of scientific biliteracy instructional strategies were frequently used in both bilingual and general education classrooms. The language used to deliver this instruction varied. A General Linear Model revealed that classroom assignment, bilingual or general education, had a significant effect on a teacher's instructional approach to employ scientific biliteracy. A simple linear regression found that the TSBI accounted for 17% of the variance on 4th grade reading benchmarks. Mixed methods results indicated that teachers were utilizing scientific biliteracy strategies in English, Spanish and/or both languages. Household items and science experimentation at home were encouraged by teachers to incorporate the students' cultural backgrounds. Finally, science inquiry was conducted through a universal approach to science learning versus a multicultural approach to science learning.

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Keywords
Bilingual, Elementary, Literacy, Science, Spanish, Teachers
Citation
Department
Bicultural-Bilingual Studies