Increasing science literacy among all students is a longstanding goal of science education. The most recent national attempt to improve science education, and thereby increase science literacy, came in the form of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards, which include 3 dimensions: scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. The purpose of this content analysis was to examine the alignment between 4 of the scientific practices (Asking Questions; Constructing Explanations; Engaging in Argument from Evidence; and Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information) and a widely used commercial literacy program, Reading Wonders, with the goal of beginning an investigation into whether or not general literacy instruction might be useful in developing science literacy. The science texts and their accompanying recommended instruction in 4th grade Wonders were coded and analyzed using categories derived from the key features of each scientific practice. Findings showed partial, although most often minimal, alignment between Wonders and each of the four practices. Scientific questions were present in Wonders, but rarely asked by students. The analyzed texts included some explanations of how or why scientific phenomena occur, but they were rarely supported by evidence. Similarly, in terms of scientific argument, the texts included some opportunities for students to observe claims being made and supported and to make and support their own claims, but these claims were rarely linked to disciplinary core ideas. Finally, Wonders offered many opportunities for students to observe and/or engage in Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information. However, these opportunities mainly involved obtaining information from a single traditional print text and then summarizing it. Teachers who are hoping to use Wonders to help students understand scientific practices should be aware that such integration will require additional planning and instruction. Alignment between Wonders and these four practices was minimal and rarely authentic to the discipline of science. Future research should continue the investigation this study began, thereby increasing generalizability, by expanding the focus to include other elementary grade levels, as well as other commercial literacy programs.
College and Department
David O. McKay School of Education; Teacher Education
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Oswald, Hailey A., "A Content Analysis of Scientific Practices in a Fourth-Grade Commercial Literacy Program" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 7410.
scientific literacy, scientific practices, literacy education, curriculum integration