Language negotiations Indigenous students navigate when learning science

Chigeza, Philemon (2008) Language negotiations Indigenous students navigate when learning science. Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 37. pp. 91-97.

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Abstract

This paper reports on implications of a research study with a group of 44 Indigenous middle school students learning the science concepts of energy and force. We found the concepts of energy and force need to be taught in English as we failed to find common comparable abstract concepts in the students' diverse Indigenous languages. Three categories of describing the concepts were identified: nine students who used scientific genre to explain and demonstrate the concepts (20%); 15 students who used limited scientific genre to explain and demonstrate the concepts in terms of direct action (35%); and 20 students who did not use scientific genre to either describe or display by direct action their knowledge of the concepts (45%).

Indigenous students learning school science navigate language negotiations before negotiating the language challenges in science learning. School science achievement is measured using Standard Australian English concept descriptors. These assessment instruments are designed to measure the student's negotiations from Standard Australian English into science. It is possible that these instruments do not adequately measure the Indigenous student's negotiations from their vernacular language into science. Developing a Creole science could empower Indigenous students learning school science to develop the capacity to successfully negotiate the language systems.

Item ID: 16436
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1326-0111
Keywords: Indigenous students, science learning, Torres Strait Creole, Aboriginal English, language negotiation
Additional Information:

Reproduced with permission from Australian Journal of Indigenous Education.

Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2011 03:45
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939901 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education @ 100%
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