Using Communication Technology to Facilitate Scientific Literacy: A Framework for Engaged Learning
Van Buskirk, Shireen
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The purpose of this research project is to describe how existing communication technologies are used to foster scientific literacy for secondary students. This study develops a new framework as an analytic tool to categorize the activities of teachers and students involved in scientific literacy to describe what elements of scientific literacy are facilitated by such technologies. Four case studies are analyzed using the framework to describe the scientific literacy initiatives. Data collection at each site included interviews with the teacher, student focus groups, student surveys, and classroom observations. Qualitative analysis of the data provided insight into the learning activities and student experiences in the four cases. This study intentionally provides a platform for student voice. Very few previous empirical studies in the area of scientific literacy include the student experience. This represents a significant gap in the current literature on scientific literacy. An interpretation of scientific literacy that promotes student engagement, interaction, and initiative corresponds to a need to listen to students’ perspectives on these experiences. Findings of the study indicated that the classroom activities depended on the teacher’s philosophy regarding scientific literacy. Communication technology was ubiquitous; where the teacher did not initiate the use of social media in the classroom, the students did. The goal of supporting scientific literacy in students is an objective that extends beyond the boundaries of classroom walls, and it can be facilitated by technologies that seem both abundant and underutilized. Technology-enhanced pedagogy altered the classroom practices and resulted in more student participation and engagement.