Date of Award

6-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

Department

Curriculum & Instruction

First Advisor

Abdelmoneim Ahmed Hasan

Second Advisor

Ali Khalfan Al Naqbi

Third Advisor

Dr. Hassan Hamed Tairab

Abstract

Students are facing challenges to acquire science content knowledge while they are still learners of English. The highly specialized language of science is by itself challenging and alienating to high school students especially for English Language Learners who did not acquire enough English proficiency needed to comprehend the science content introduced in their classroom.

The purpose of this mixed method study was to investigate Emirati high school students’ perceptions of the challenges English Language proficiency adds to the acquisition of science content knowledge. In addition, this study sought to identify any gender differences, grade level differences, and any interaction between gender and grade level about the challenges English Language adds to the acquisition of science content knowledge.

The mixed methods study used a Triangulation Design where data collected from the quantitative part of a 27 items Likert type survey were supported by data analyzed from the qualitative part collected from students responses to 7 open ended questions included in the survey. The sample was a purposive sample of 935 students enrolled in four high schools in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi cities. Quantitative data collected was analyzed by conducting a Two-Way Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) which determined the effect of gender, grade level, and possible interaction between gender and grade level on the five dependent variables; meaning decoding, previous knowledge, reading skills, science vocabulary, and comprehension. The researcher further conducted a Two-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) as a follow up test to the (MANOVA) analysis. Using the Bonferroni adjustment method, each ANOVA was tested at 0.01 level (0.05/5=0.01). For the significant (ANOVA) results the researcher conducted a Post Hoc Analysis (Bonferroni Multiple Comparison Procedures). On the other hand, qualitative data was organized and transcribed, coded and grouped into themes. Then the researchers represented findings by merging quantitative and qualitative data results through the discussion and interpretation section.

Results of the (MANOVA) analysis were significant for the two independent variables; gender, and grade level, in addition to the interaction between them. As for the (ANOVA) analysis, results revealed significant gender effect on two dependent variables; previous knowledge, and comprehension. Moreover, (ANOVA) test showed insignificant grade level main effect on the five dependent variables in this study. As for the effect of the interaction between gender and grade level on students’ perceptions, (ANOVA) results on the five dependent variables was not statistically significant for the five dependent variables except for the meaning decoding one.

This study contribute to our understanding of how Emirati high school students perceive the challenges English proficiency adds to the acquisition of science content knowledge. It has important implications for literacy and science educators, curriculum developers, policy makers and all stakeholders who are interested in using language and literacy practices in the service of science teaching and learning. The study then wraps up some recommendations for future study most importantly if further study can be applicable to specific science subject; i.e.: physics, chemistry, and biology individually as each due to special demands of the lexical content of each domain.

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