UBC Theses and Dissertations
Two approaches to writing laboratory reports in senior science: the knowledge framework and the genre-based approach to literacy Liew, Edwin Chee Yiun
The purpose of this study was to address the question, “is there a difference in the quality of scientific report writing at the senior secondary school level related to differences in instructional approach: The Knowledge Framework (KF) approach or the the Genre-based approach to literacy instruction. This research also examined the effectiveness of the two approaches on improving ESL and native-speaking students’ writing of scientific laboratory reports in senior science. The Genre approach to writing science was based on the model of Systemic Functional Linguistics that views language as a social semiotic that is a resource for meaning. The Genrebased approach to literary in science was concerned with exploring the structure, function and usage of scientific language in the written mode. The Knowledge Framework-based approach to pedagogy was one that emphasized the cooperative development of cognitive skills, academic language and content knowledge by focusing on thinking objectives, key linguistic and content features inherent in a topic or activity. The methodological design for this study tested the effectiveness of the Knowledge Framework and the Genre approaches by using two pretests (Reading and Writing), one posttest of the written lab reports, and two surveys that drew upon the participants’ experiences with each of the two approaches. Except for the Gates-MacGinitie Reading test, the tests and an evaluation grid for the posttest were specially developed for this study. The two pretests assessed the student participants’ reading and writing abilities prior to the introduction of the two approaches while the posttest lab reports represent the lab work written by the students using the two approaches. The surveys contained itemized statements that represent the participants’ opinion about the characterizing features of the two approaches: the generic structure or format and the special language features. The respondents of the surveys were to use a four-point score: Strongly Agree (1) - Agree (2) - Disagree (3) - Strongly Disagree (4). The results from the reading and writing pretests, posttest laboratory reports, and the two surveys indicated that there is a difference in the quality of scientific report writing at the senior secondary school level related to differences in instructional approach. The results revealed that: a) the Knowledge Framework helped to improve the quality of both native-speaking and ESL studentS writing of scientific lab reports in senior Biology. The Knowledge Framework served as an organizational tool for students to focus on the linguistic features necessary for expressing key content information in their write-up. b) the Genre-based approach helped the students to improve their awareness of ‘Procedure”, ‘Procedural recount”, and “Explanation” genres and focus on the language features for expressing scientific content. c) the Knowledge Framework approach appeared to help students to improve the quality of both mainstream and ESL students’ writing of scientific lab reports in senior Biology. d) however, neither the KF nor the Genre-based approach substantially improved the quality of both mainstream and ESL students’ writing of lab reports when compared to the quality of the students who were not taught either approach. e) the mainstream and ESL students showed no significant improvement above those in the Control group after using the KF and Genre approach. f) overall, the KF approach appeared to be more effective than the Genre-based approach to instruction in improving the quality of both mainstream and ESL students’ writing of scientific lab reports in senior Biology. g) while the study has contrasted the Knowledge Framework approach and the Genrebased approach, they were infact complementary.
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