Expanding STEM Literacy through Content-Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in an Undergraduate Biology Classroom

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Angel M. Y. Lin, Faculty of Education

Project team: Joan Sharp, Department of Biological Sciences, Bong-gi Sohn, Faculty of Education, Ivy Tsang, research assistant

Timeframe: January 2020 to February 2022

Funding: $5,000

Courses addressed: BISC 102 - General Biology

Final report: View Angel Lin’s Final Report (PDF) >> 

Description: For this project, we will pilot a design-based study in BISC 102 to understand how concept and language mapping are played out in university-level introductory biology science classrooms. We will focus on integrating (scientific) knowledge and communicative literacies using Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approaches; in particular, the Premise – Reasoning – Outcome (PRO) Map – as a tool to teach and learn complex biological concepts. This approach can be understood as enhancing STEM literacy where students need to integrate communicative skills with biological knowledge and conceptualization. Specifically, we will design a concept-language map in consultation with biology faculty collaborator Joan Sharp. Through our transdisciplinary collaboration, we will foster SFU undergraduate students’ learning and developing their disciplinary reasoning and science literacies.

References: Tang, K.-S. (2016). Constructing scientific explanations through premise–reasoning–outcome (PRO): an exploratory study to scaffold students in structuring written explanations. International Journal of Science Education, 38(9), 1415-1440.

Questions addressed:

  • When discussing critical concepts in the theory of evolution by natural selection, how do students express their knowledge of content and their reasoning skills?
  • When introduced to explanation genre scaffolds (e.g., PRO-Map), how do students demonstrate an understanding of the content and provide logical reasoning and explanations for the outcome, as it pertains to critical concepts of evolutionary theory?
  • How does the instructor feel with a shift in teaching style from a more explanatory practice to an expository and dialogic practice?

Knowledge sharing: The results of this project will be shared with colleagues from FIC and SFU through local workshops and/or conferences. We submitted conference proposals to the International STEM in Education Conference in July 2021.

Keywords: knowledge-based reasoning; 21st century communicative skills; STEM literacies; explaining and reasoning on social scientific issues; theory of evolution by natural selection; Premise-Reasoning-Outcome (PRO) cognitive scaffolding; PRO_Map; argumentation and dialogic practice; STEM curriculum design; STEM instructional innovation