Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Features and Functions of Scientific Language(s) in TIMSS 2011
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education.
2016 (English)In: NorDiNa: Nordic Studies in Science Education, ISSN 1504-4556, E-ISSN 1894-1257, Vol. 12, no 2, 176-196 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examines differences in language use in different scientific subjects by analysing all grade 8 science items from TIMSS 2011. Four meaning dimensions are identified as central for analysing what functions different linguistic features fulfil in scientific language. They concern the levels of Packing, Precision and Presentation of information, and the level of Personification in a text.

The results show that language use in TIMSS differs in some ways among the scientific subjects. Average physics language uses more words. Language use in biology shows higher Packing and lower Precision, while physics shows the opposite pattern. Although items are generally low in Personification, the language of physics has higher levels of Personification, especially compared to earth science. Language in chemistry often presents information in more complex ways. According to these results, the study appears to challenge the notion that there is a single scientific language.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 12, no 2, 176-196 p.
Keyword [en]
science education, large-scale studies, scientific language, TIMSS, systemic functional linguistics
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Curriculum Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-281309OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-281309DiVA: diva2:915905
Available from: 2016-03-31 Created: 2016-03-22 Last updated: 2016-10-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. De naturvetenskapliga ämnesspråken: De naturvetenskapliga uppgifterna i och elevers resultat från TIMSS 2011 år 8
Open this publication in new window or tab >>De naturvetenskapliga ämnesspråken: De naturvetenskapliga uppgifterna i och elevers resultat från TIMSS 2011 år 8
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
The subject languages of science education : The science items and students' results from TIMSS 2011 year 8
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the scientific language in different subjects by analysing all grade 8 science items from TIMSS 2011, using four characteristic meaning dimensions of scientific language – Packing, Precision and Presentation of information, and the level of Personification in a text. The results, as well as results from established readability measures, are correlated with test performances of different student groups. The TIMSS vocabulary is compared with three Swedish corpora where low frequency words are identified and further analysed.

The thesis challenges the notion that there is a single scientific language, as results show that the language use varies between subjects. Physics uses more words, biology shows higher Packing and lower Precision, while physics shows the opposite pattern. Items are generally low in Personification but physics has higher levels, earth science lower. Chemistry often presents information in more complex ways.

The use of meaning dimensions manages to connect the language use in science items to student performance, while established measures do not. For each subject, one or more of the meaning dimensions shows significant correlations with small to medium effect sizes. Higher Packing is positively correlated with students’ results in earth science, negatively correlated in physics, and has no significant correlations in biology or chemistry. Students’ performances decrease when placing items in everyday contexts, and skilled readers are aided by higher precision, while less-skilled seem unaffected. Many meaning dimensions that influence low performers’ results do not influence those of high performers, and vice versa.

The vocabulary of TIMSS and school textbooks are closely matched, but compared with more general written Swedish and a more limited vocabulary, the coverage drops significantly. Of the low frequency words 78% are nouns, where also most compound–, extra long– and made-up words are found. These categories and nominalisations are more common in biology and, except for made-up words, rare in chemistry. Abstract and generalizing nouns are frequent in biology and earth science, concrete nouns in chemistry and physics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. 129 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Educational Sciences, 9
Keyword
science education, scientific language, assessment, readability formulas, student achievement, vocabulary, systemic functional linguistics, corpus linguistics, student achievement
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Curriculum Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-281323 (URN)978-91-554-9536-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-05-20, Bertil Hammer-salen, 24:K104, Blåsenhus, von Kraemers allé 1, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-04-28 Created: 2016-03-22 Last updated: 2016-05-12

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(1169 kB)13 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 1169 kBChecksum SHA-512
c3851c01459b984b2cbd4e9b65b85161a0a33943875a029a46d0634b2dff71ea59a6630db890e595e3ec29a8bb70de27fc2abc091a3b8d8b2a846ccfd75b8fb7
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Persson, Tomasaf Geijerstam, ÅsaLiberg, Caroline
By organisation
Department of Education
In the same journal
NorDiNa: Nordic Studies in Science Education
Didactics

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 13 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 99 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link