Measuring and comparing academic language development and conceptual understanding via science notebooks

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The authors of this quantitative study measured and compared the academic language development and conceptual understanding of fifth-grade economically disadvantaged English language learners (ELL), former ELLs, and native English-speaking (ES) students as reflected in their science notebook scores. Using an instrument they developed, the authors quantified the student notebook language and concept scores. They compared language growth over time across three time points: beginning, middle, and end of the school year and across language-status (ELL, former ELL, and ES), and gender using mixed between-within subjects analysis of variance (ANOVA). The authors also compared students’ conceptual understanding scores across categories in three domains using ANOVA. Students demonstrated statistically significant growth over time in their academic language as reflected by science notebook scores, and we noticed conceptual trends in which scores for ELLs, former ELLs, and male students lagged behind at first, but caught up to their peers by the end of the school year. © 2016 Taylor & Francis.


Academic language; conceptual understanding; economically disadvantaged; English language learners; science assessment; science education; science notebook

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