• Michael R. VitaleEmail author
  • Nancy R. Romance


This study focused on accelerating development of science knowledge and understanding at the primary level (grades 1 – 2) as a means for enhancing reading comprehension (i.e. early literacy). An adaptation of a grade 3 – 5 cognitive-science-based, instructional model (Science IDEAS) that integrated science with reading and writing, this year-long study implemented daily 45-min instructional periods emphasizing in-depth, cumulative learning of science core-concept “clusters” while integrating science and literacy in a manner that provided teachers with a thematic focus for all aspects of instruction. Results (a) confirmed the feasibility of implementing the integrated, in-depth science model at the primary level and (b) showed that experimental students obtained significantly higher achievement on Iowa Tests of Basic Skills Science and Reading tests than comparable controls. Discussed are curricular policy implications for increasing the instructional time for content-area instruction at the primary level.


integrated science and reading primary science instruction reform 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1994). Benchmarks for science literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) (1997). Making standards matter 1997. An annual fifty state report on efforts to raise academic standards. Washington, DC: AFT.Google Scholar
  3. Armbruster, B. B. & Osborn, J. H. (2001). Reading instruction and assessment: Understanding IRA standards. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  4. Armga, C., Dillon, S., Jamsek, M., Morgan, E. L., Peyton, D. & Speranza, H. (2002). Tips for helping children do science. Texas Child Care, 26(3), 2–7.Google Scholar
  5. Beane, J. A. (1995). Curriculum integration and the disciplines of knowledge. Phi Delta Kappan, 76, 616–622.Google Scholar
  6. Block, C. C. & Pressley, M. (Eds.). (2002). Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L. & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.). (2000). How people learn. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cervetti, G. N., Pearson, P. D., Bravo, M. A. & Barber, J. (2006). Reading and writing in the service of inquiry-based science. In R. Douglas, M. P. Klentschy & K. Worth (Eds.), Linking science and literacy in the K–8 classroom (pp. 221–244). Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.Google Scholar
  9. Colker, L. J. (2002). Teaching and learning about science. Young Children, 57(5), 10–11. 47.Google Scholar
  10. Conezio, K. & French, L. (2002). Science in the preschool classroom: Capitalizing on children’s fascination with the everyday world to foster language and literacy development. Young Children, 57(5), 12–18.Google Scholar
  11. Donahue, P. L., Voekl, K. E., Campbell, J. R. & Mazzeo, J. (1999). NAEP 1998 Reading Report Card for the States. Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, US Department of Education.Google Scholar
  12. Duke, N. K. (2000). 3.6 minutes per day: The scarcity of informational texts in first grade. Reading Research Quarterly, 35(2), 202–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Duke, N. K. (2010). The real world reading and writing U.S. children need. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(5), 68–71.Google Scholar
  14. Duke, N. K., Bennett-Armistead, V. S. & Roberts, E. M. (2003). Filling the nonfiction void. American Educator, 27(1), 30–35.Google Scholar
  15. Duke, N. & Pearson, P. D. (2002). Effective practices for developing reading comprehension. In A. E. Farstrup & S. J. Samuels (Eds.), What research has to say about reading instruction (pp. 205–242). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.Google Scholar
  16. Duschl, R. A., Schweingruber, H. A. & Shouse, A. W. (2007). Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K–8. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  17. Feldman, S. (2000). Standards are working: But states and districts need to make some mid-course corrections. American Educator, 24(3), 5–7.Google Scholar
  18. French, L. (2004). Science as the center of a coherent, integrated early childhood curriculum. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19, 138–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gelman, R. & Brenneman, K. (2004). Science learning pathways for young children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19, 150–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gould, C. J., Weeks, V. & Evans, S. (2003). Science starts early. Gifted Child Today Magazine, 26, 38–43.Google Scholar
  21. Guthrie, J. T. & Ozgungor, S. (2002). Instructional contexts for reading engagement. In C. C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 275–288). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  22. Guthrie, J. T., Wigfield, A. & Perencevich, K. C. (2004). Motivating reading comprehension: Concept-oriented reading instruction. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  23. Hirsch, E. D. (2001). Seeking breadth and depth in the curriculum. Educational Leadership, 59(2), 21–25.Google Scholar
  24. Hirsch, E. D. (2003). Reading comprehension requires knowledge—of words and the world: Scientific insights into the fourth-grade slump and stagnant reading comprehension. American Educator, 27(1), 10–29.Google Scholar
  25. Hirsch, E. D. (2006). The knowledge deficit. New York: Houghton Miffin.Google Scholar
  26. Holliday, W. G. (2004). Choosing science textbooks: Connecting science research to common sense. In W. Saul (Ed.), Crossing borders in literacy and science instruction (pp. 383–394). Newark, DE: International Reading Association and NSTA Press.Google Scholar
  27. Jones, J. & Courtney, R. (2002). Documenting early science learning. Young Children, 57(5), 34–38. 40.Google Scholar
  28. Jones, M. G., Jones, B. D., Hardin, B., Chapman, L., Yarbrough, T. & Davis, M. (1999). The impact of high-stakes testing on teachers and students in North Carolina. Phi Delta Kappan, 81, 199–203.Google Scholar
  29. Klentschy, M. P. & Molina-De La Torre, E. (2004). Students’ science notebooks and the inquiry process. In E. W. Saul (Ed.), Crossing borders in literacy and science instruction: Perspectives on theory and practice (pp. 340–354). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.Google Scholar
  30. Koch, J. & Appleton, K. (2007). The effect of a mentoring model for elementary science professional development. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 18, 209–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krajcik, J. S. & Sutherland, L. M. (2010). Supporting students in developing literacy in science. Science, 328, 456–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lee, M., Lostoski, M. & Williams, K. (2000). Diving into a schoolwide science theme. Science and Children, 38(1), 31–35.Google Scholar
  33. Mullis, I., Martin, M. O., Gonzalez, E. J. & Kennedy, A. M. (2003). PIRLS 2001 international report: IEA’s study of reading literacy achievement in primary school in 35 countries. Chestnut Hill, MA: International Study Center, Boston College.Google Scholar
  34. Mullis, I., Martin, M. O. & Kennedy, A. M. (2007). PIRLS 2006 international report: IEA’s progress in international reading literacy study in primary school in 40 countries. Chestnut Hill, MA: International Study Center, Boston College.Google Scholar
  35. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2002). The nation’s report card: Science highlights 2000 (NCES 2002-452). Washington, DC: US Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.Google Scholar
  36. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2010). The nation’s report card: Trial urban district assessment reading 2009 (NCES 2010-459). Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education.Google Scholar
  37. National Reading Panel (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Jessup, MD: National Institute for Literacy.Google Scholar
  38. National Research Council (NRC) (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  39. Ogle, D. & Blachowicz, C. L. Z. (2002). Beyond literature circles: Helping students comprehend informational texts. In C. C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction (pp. 247–258). NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  40. Palincsar, A. S. & Magnusson, S. J. (2001). The interplay of first-hand and second-hand investigations to model and support the development of scientific knowledge and reasoning. In S. Carver & D. Klahr (Eds.), Cognition and instruction: 25 years of progress (pp. 151–194). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  41. Palmer, R. G. & Stewart, R. (2003). Nonfiction trade book use in primary grades. The Reading Teacher, 57, 38–48.Google Scholar
  42. Pearson, P. D. & Duke, N. (2002). Comprehension instruction in the primary grades. In C. C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction (pp. 247–258). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  43. Pearson, P. D., Moje, E. & Greenleaf, C. (2010). Literacy and science: Each in the service of the other. Science, 328, 459–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pressley, M., Rankin, J. & Yokoi, L. (1996). A survey of instructional practices of primary teachers nominated as effective in promoting literacy. Elementary School Journal, 96, 363–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pretti-Frontczak, K. L., Barr, D. M., Macy, M. & Carter, A. (2003). Research and resources related to activity-based intervention, embedded learning opportunities, and routines-based instruction: An annotated bibliography. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 23(1), 29–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rakow, S. J. & Bell, M. J. (1998). Science and young children: The message from the National Science Education Standards. Childhood Education, 74(3), 164–167.Google Scholar
  47. Romance, N. R. & Vitale, M. R. (1992). A curriculum strategy that expands time for in-depth elementary science instruction by using science-based reading strategies: Effects of a year-long study in grade four. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 29(6), 545–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Romance, N. R. & Vitale, M. R. (2001). Evolution of a model for teaching in-depth science in elementary schools: Longitudinal findings and research implications. International Journal of Science Education, 23, 373–404.Google Scholar
  49. Romance, N. R. & Vitale, M. R. (2011). A research-based instructional model for integrating meaningful learning in elementary science and reading comprehension: Implications for policy and practice. In N. L. Stein & S. W. Raudenbush (Eds.), Developmental cognitive science goes to school (pp. 127–142). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. Romance, N. R. & Vitale, M. R. (in press). Interdisciplinary perspectives linking science and literacy in grades K–5: Implications for policy and practice. In B. J. Fraser, K. Tobin & C. J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second international handbook of science education. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  51. Schmidt, W. H., McKnight, C., Cogan, L. S., Jakwerth, P. M. & Houang, R. T. (1999). Facing the consequences: Using TIMSS for a closer look at U.S. mathematics and science education. Boston: Kluwer Academic.Google Scholar
  52. Schmidt, W. H., McKnight, C. C., Houang, R. T., Wang, H. C., Wiley, D. E., Cogan, L. S., et al. (2001). Why schools matter: A cross-national comparison of curriculum and learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  53. Shanahan, T. (2010). The death of content area reading: Disciplinary literacy. Paper presented at the 12th Annual Education Literacy Symposium, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.Google Scholar
  54. Shanahan, T. & Shanahan, C. (2008). Teaching disciplinary literacy to adolescents: Rethinking content-area literacy. Harvard Educational Review, 78, 40–59.Google Scholar
  55. Smith, A. (2001). Early childhood—a wonderful time for science learning. Investigating: Australian Primary & Junior Science Journal, 17(2), 18–21.Google Scholar
  56. Snow, C. E. (2002). Reading for understanding: Toward a research and development program in reading comprehension. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.Google Scholar
  57. Tytler, R. & Peterson, S. (2001). Deconstructing learning in science—young children’s responses to a classroom sequence on evaporation. Research in Science Education, 30(4), 339–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van den Broek, P. (2010). Using texts in science education: Cognitive processes and knowledge representation. Science, 328, 453–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Vitale, M. R. & Romance, N. R. (2006). Research in science education: An interdisciplinary perspective. In J. Rhoton & P. Shane (Eds.), Teaching science in the 21 st century (pp. 329–351). Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.Google Scholar
  60. Vitale, M. R. & Romance, N. R. (2007a). A knowledge-based framework for unifying content-area reading comprehension and reading comprehension strategies. In D. McNamara (Ed.), Reading comprehension strategies: Theory, interventions, and technologies (pp. 75–103). New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  61. Vitale, M. R. & Romance, N. R. (2007b). Adaptation of a knowledge-based instructional intervention to accelerate student learning in science and early literacy in grades 1–2. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  62. Vitale, M. R. & Romance, N. R. (2010). Toward a curricular policy for advancing school reform by integrating reading comprehension within time-expanded science instruction in grades K-5. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  63. Vitale, M. R., Romance, N. R. & Klentschy, M. (2006). Improving school reform by changing curriculum policy toward content-area instruction in elementary schools: A research-based model. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
  64. Walsh, K. (2003). Basal readers: The lost opportunity to build the knowledge that propels comprehension. American Educator, 27, 24–27.Google Scholar
  65. Webb, P. (2010). Science education and literacy: Imperatives for the developed and developing world. Science, 328, 448–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Yore, L. D., Hand, B., Goldman, S. R., Hildebrand, G. M., Osborne, J., Treagust, D. F. & Wallace, C. (2004). New directions in language and science education research. Reading Research Quarterly, 39(3), 347–352.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Teaching and LearningFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

Personalised recommendations