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UHV professors partner with Houston school district on study

By Victoria Advocate
Sept. 1, 2012 at 4:01 a.m.
Updated Sept. 2, 2012 at 4:02 a.m.

Jane Fry

University of Houston-Victoria professors are partnering with the Houston Independent School District this fall to study whether students can better understand big ideas about science using the concept of science literacy circles.

This educational idea was developed by associate professor Jane Fry and assistant professor Teresa LeSage, both with the UHV School of Education & Human Development.

They first discussed the topic in their manuscript "Science Literacy Circles: Big Ideas about Science" published in the July 2010 education journal Science Activities: Classroom Projects and Curriculum Ideas.

The idea combines two popular educational strategies - literature circles and science notebooks. Literature circles are small, student-directed group discussions about a specific piece of literature.

Each student is assigned a point of view to represent during the discussion. Science notebooks are used to collect students' work, such as laboratory write-ups and class notes, to show students how everything comes together.

"Science is an area where students often struggle on statewide tests," Fry said. "Science literacy circles focus on the social nature of learning, motivation to learn and creating students' own learning experiences with a teacher as a mentor."

After writing the initial paper, Fry said that everything fell into place to partner with the Houston school district on a research study to test the strategy.

Benita Tennard, who works with the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Department of the Houston school district, found the paper while she was researching how to improve science vocabulary and science comprehension at the elementary school level. She then contacted the UHV professors about testing their strategy in the classroom.

"We are very excited to work with the Houston school district to help improve elementary science, technology, engineering and mathematics education with this instructional strategy," Le Sage said.

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