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Scientific Practices: Equalizing Opportunities for Linguistically Diverse Student Groups Documents

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Scientific Practices: Equalizing Opportunities for Linguistically Diverse Student Groups 

written by Shelly N. Belleau and Valerie K. Otero

This study explores the hypothesis that curricula designed to engage students in evidence-based inductive reasoning can equalize opportunities for linguistically diverse students. Specifically, we evaluated how English language learners and native English speakers performed on conceptual physics assessments and the extent to which they used models and evidence to justify claims and ideas. Results indicate that within this learning context, all students demonstrated conceptual learning gains as well as reliance on evidence and models to support their claims. Female English language learners, a group that has remained underrepresented in science, used evidence and models most frequently to support their claims, and these students demonstrated performance on end of course assessments of conceptual understanding that was comparable to university students. Male English language learners did not rely on evidence and models to the same extent. We discuss these differences and propose rationale for aspects of the learning environment that may have led to these findings.

Published February 1, 2014
Last Modified December 24, 2013

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