Less use of scientific terminology in the primary school classroom: a means of concept development?

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The language of science has the potential to aid high order conceptual explanation, but emphasis on verbal correctness can frequently limit children’s ability to conceptualise scientific ideas. This study takes a socio-cultural perspective and investigates whether an approach that separated the language and conceptual dimensions of science teaching could influence the discourse and learning of primary age children. Planning meetings were carried out with teachers in which concepts were isolated from the scientific terms traditionally associated with them. Recordings were made of classroom discourse and of the interviews that took place with the teachers. Data was analysed for cohesion in discourse and the level of exploratory discourse that took place. This analysis indicated that there was an increased focus on exploratory discourse in the classroom with enhanced confidence in explaining concepts using everyday language. Evidence was also seen of greater identity affiliation with the social discourse of science for both staff and pupils, particularly among less able boys and those with literacy difficulties. The study reveals the importance of pedagogical approaches that focus on language and conceptual development for engaging children who may experience identity conflict in the science classroom.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016
EventNARST Annual International Conference - Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, Baltimore, United States
Duration: 14 Apr 201617 Apr 2016


ConferenceNARST Annual International Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • discourse
  • literacy
  • primary science
  • socio-constructivist


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