The Language of Science and Readability: Correlations between Linguistic Features in TIMSS Science Items and the Performance of Different Groups of Swedish 8th Grade Students.
2016 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Literacy Research, Vol. 1, no 2, 1-27 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
This exploratory study examines how linguistic features of the Swedish TIMSS 2011 grade 8 science items correlate with results from different groups of students. Language use in different science subjects is analysed using four characteristic meaning dimensions of scientific language: Packing, Precision, Presentation of information and Personification within the text, along with established measures of readability and information load.
For each subject, one or more of the meaning dimensions show statistically significant correlations with students’ performances with small to medium effect sizes. The results show that higher packing is positively correlated with students’ results in earth science, negatively correlated in physics, and has no significant correlations in biology or chemistry. Placing items in everyday contexts reduces the likelihood of the items being answered correctly, and skilled readers are aided by higher precision in items, while less skilled readers seem unaffected. Many meaning dimensions that influence high performers’ results do not influence those of low performers, and vice versa.
The use of meaning dimensions is shown to be an enriching complementary method for analysing language use in science, as it connects the language use in items to student performance, while established measures do not.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 1, no 2, 1-27 p.
Science education, large-scale studies, scientific language, TIMSS, readability, systemic functional linguistics, assessment, student achievement
Research subject Curriculum Studies
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-281310DOI: 10.17585/njlr.v2.186OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-281310DiVA: diva2:915903