An analysis of science conceptual knowledge in journals of students with disabilities and normally achieving students
Grigg, Gail S.
MetadataShow full item record
Science education reforms of the last two decades have focused on raising the bar for ALL students which includes students with mild to moderate disabilities. Formative assessment can be used to assess the progress of these students to inquire, understand scientific concepts, reason scientifically, make decisions, and communicate effectively in science. The purpose of this study is to examine the use of science journals as a formative assessment in a guided inquiry unit of study for students with learning disabilities. Two normally achieving students (NA) and five students with learning disabilities (SLD) participated in a study of mammals that utilized journals to record the development of student knowledge through the course of study. Students were interviewed after the lessons were complete using the same prompts required in the journals. Themes were developed from the student writings and their verbal discourse using Grounded Theory. Journals and verbal discourse were rated following the themes of Knowledge Telling (KT) and Knowledge Transformation (KTR). Concept maps were developed for the Pre and Post test lessons (written and verbal discourses) by the raters in an attempt to further explain the knowledge that the students conveyed. The results of this study suggest that SLD are able to demonstrate knowledge about mammals better through verbal discourse than written discourse. While the NA students wrote more and used more technical discourse than did their SLD peers, the conceptual understanding of the topic by the SLD was no less inclusive than their NA peers when accessed verbally. The journals demonstrated limited conceptual growth for the SLD. Further, while lexical density is important to the development of knowledge in science, this study suggests the "conceptual density" may be another important indicator to examine.