Reconceptualizing the Literacies in Adolescents' Lives: Bridging the Everyday/Academic Divide

By Donna E. Alvermann; Kathleen A. Hinchman | Go to book overview

6
THINKING WITH FORENSIC SCIENCE
A Content Analysis of Forensic Comic Books
and Graphic Novels

Barbara Guzzetti and Marcia Mardis

Imagine a school in which teachers are committed to bridging adolescents’ everyday literacies with the literacy practices common to subject matter learning. Now, focus on a hypothetical science classroom in that school. What would the teacher in that classroom need to know about the everyday texts adolescents use that may have potential for connecting with their interests while simultaneously supporting the science curriculum? We had those questions in mind when we designed the study that is at the heart of this chapter.

Students’ interest and achievement in science are under increased scrutiny in the United States due to their consistently poor achievement in science (NCES, 2011), particularly when compared to students’ science achievement in other nations (OECD, 2010). Lagging performance has led science educators and policymakers to explore ways to improve learners’ motivation and performance in science. In response, new science education standards in this country encourage teachers to focus on connecting students’ preferences for social, interactive, and media-rich learning (AAUW, 2002; Guzzetti, 2009) to subject-matter instruction. This blend of knowledge and process is intended to develop and refine students’ scientific inquiry skills while increasing their knowledge of scientific concepts (Ansbacher, 2000).

Simultaneously, similar concerns have been raised about students’ proficiency in literacy in the United States (OECD, 2010). Increasing adolescents’ ability and motivation to read, write, and talk like scientists has become a recent focus in the effort to improve their science achievement (Saul, 2003). The preteen and teen years are key times to spark students’ interest and motivation because academic achievement often begins to decline during the middle-school years (Eccles et al., 1993). In many cases, this decline has been linked to students’ inability to relate to course material.

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