Understanding Science and Language Connections: New Approaches to Assessment with Bilingual Learners


We report on the use of bilingual constructed response science assessments in the context of a research and development partnership with secondary school science teachers. Given the power that assessments have in today’s education systems, our project provided a series of workshops for teachers where they explored students’ emergent reform-oriented science meaning-making in our project-designed assessments. Within the context of these workshops, we used discourse analysis to explore how three different groups grappled with the new reform-oriented relationship between science and language: (1) the research team’s emergent understandings of how to create improved resources for teachers to better integrate science and language; (2) students’ emergent understandings as expressed in their assessment responses; and (3) teachers’ emergent understandings of how to integrate science and language in their instruction as expressed in interviews in the teacher writing workshops. Implications for curriculum designers, assessment developers, and professional learning facilitators are discussed.

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This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number # DRL-1316398. Opinions and conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Correspondence to Cory Buxton.

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Buxton, C., Harman, R., Cardozo-Gaibisso, L. et al. Understanding Science and Language Connections: New Approaches to Assessment with Bilingual Learners. Res Sci Educ 49, 977–988 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-019-9846-8

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  • Bilingual learners
  • Science assessment
  • Bilingual assessment
  • Cultural validity
  • Legitimation code theory
  • Systemic functional linguistics