This review summarizes the effects of reading, writing, and language skills on scientific literacy. To start, we will look at the value placed on scientific literacy in society which in turn would place value on this research. Next, we will describe the connection between reading/language skills and science literacy. We will also examine how the integration of these skills can influence literacy in the science field. Finally, the ways reading and language skills are incorporated into science classrooms will be reviewed as each source has different methods to bridge these two areas.
Importance of Scientific Literacy
Scientific literacy was first coined by James Bryant Conant, President of Harvard University, in 1952. Scientific literacy is described as having an understanding of science which can be applied to civic, social, economic, and cultural affairs. By this definition, we can extrapolate that a person must be scientifically literate in order to successfully navigate society and many social situations.
Pearson, Moje, and Greenleaf (2010) stressed:
Development of a scientifically literate citizenry has been tied to the future of robust democratic society. Explicit calls for proficiency in reading and science literacy for all envision a populace capable of fully participating in the workplace and civic demands of the 21st century. (p. 459)
Other researchers agree with this assessment. According to Greenleaf et al. (2011), “Our democracy and future economic well-being depend on a literate populace, capable of fully participating in the demands of the 21st century” (p. 4). This literacy is not just affiliated with novels and poetry. Being literate in modern times also requires literacy in science and technology ...
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...that teachers were properly trained in implementing literacy skills first.
As we have discussed, science literacy is a vital skill for navigating the modern world. Most science curriculum is based on doing science rather than understanding science which has many science groups calling for more literacy skills to be added to science courses. Research has proven that one cannot truly be scientifically literate without possessing the skills to read, write, and discuss science. These literacy skills can be implemented into the class in several ways. Science text reading programs, classroom debates pertaining to science, and teacher development are all strategies that can bridge literacy with science. Further research in the area is necessary in order to produce members of society that can successfully understand and react to the demands of our modern world.
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