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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v4.i4.30
pages 341-369

IMPROVING THE SCIENCE EDUCATION OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS: CAPITALIZING ON EDUCATIONAL REFORM

Cory A. Buxton
University of New Orleans, 342-E Bicentennial Education Center, New Orleans, LA 70148

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the role of second language issues as a barrier to adequate science education for underrepresented groups in science and engineering. It also explores how the current wave of educational reform initiatives provides what is, perhaps, a singular opportunity to create widespread change in how English Language Learners leam science. An attempt is made to bridge the gap between science content education and English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction at the secondary school level. First, the current condition of science instruction for ESL students is assessed. Second, elements of the science education reform movement are examined in light of how they address the issue of teaching science to all students. Third, insights from research on second language acquisition that can be related to the teaching of science are presented. Fourth, several model projects that are attempting to provide innovative and exemplary science education to linguistically and culturally diverse secondary students are examined. Finally, recommendations are made as to how these two groups of teachers, science content specialists and language specialists, can better work together.

    When demographic realities, national needs, and democratic values are taken into account, it becomes clear that the nation can no longer ignore the science education of any students. Race, language, sex, or economic circumstances must no longer be permitted to be factors in determining who does and who does not receive a good education in science, mathematics, and technology. To neglect the science education of any (as has happened too often to girls and minority students) is to deprive them of a basic education, handicap them for life, and deprive the nation of talented workers and informed citizens—a loss the nation can ill afford (Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1990, p. 200).