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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Learning through Language: A Study of the Appropriation of Academic Language of Sixth Grade Learners across Content Areas
by Corbo, Elizabeth, Ed.D., University of Cincinnati, 2011, 272; 3469631
Abstract (Summary)

This study investigates the development of academic language related to social studies and science learning within a sixth grade classroom. Academic language has been described as the specialized set of words, grammar, and organizational strategies used to express complex ideas, higher order thinking processes and abstract concepts (Zwiers, 2008). 25 sixth graders, ranging in age from eleven to thirteen years of age were observed for sixty minutes daily during a science and social studies block for a period of twelve weeks. From this observation period, six representative learning sequences were chosen and analyzed using Systemic Functional Linguistics. Analysis showed that while these sixth graders utilized informal social language throughout most of their spoken and written text, within each macrogenre were examples of a feature or features that allowed students to make more precise meanings by accessing explicit, decontextualized, and complex language features. A connection between students' use of these features and the nuances of the related classroom activity was observed. When students were instructed to attend to a certain feature of the text (i.e. underlining vocabulary words in an essay) there was an increase in academic language features within their responses. Further research is needed in order to provide clear articulation of systems that support the development of this register in order to provide explicit examples of effective choices for classroom teachers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Laine, Chester
Commitee: Beckett, Gulbahar, Combs, Sandra, Paulson, Eric, Watts Taffe, Susan
School: University of Cincinnati
Department: Literacy
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 72/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Middle School education, Teacher education
Keywords: Academic language, Academic register, Adolescent language development, Language development, Systemic functional linguistics
Publication Number: 3469631
ISBN: 978-1-124-85850-0
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