Embedding in-discipline language support for first year students in the sciences: outcomes and future directions

Felicia Zhang, Brett Lidbury, Jurgen Schulte, Adam Bridgeman, John Rodgers, Brian Yates

Abstract


This paper reports on an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) funded project which aims at addressing the need to cater for the language needs of a diverse student body (both domestic and international student body) by embedding strategic approaches to learning and teaching in first year sciences in tertiary education. The disciplines covered by the project are Biology, Chemistry and Physics and involves the University of Canberra (UC), University of Sydney (USyd), University of Tasmania (UTAS), University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and University of Newcastle (Newcastle). In semester one 2009, active learning strategies such as the use of Votapedia (www.votapedia.com), online pre-lecture questions and group work in tutorials were implemented at both UTS and UTAS. The paper reports on student achievement results obtained from first year Chemistry and Physics student cohorts in 2009 from UTAS and UTS. This data has been compared to data obtained in semester 1 2008. Early data analysis suggests that the combination of techniques listed above, introduced in lectures and tutorials, has led to improved achievement in students’ overall grades.

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