“To speak or not to speak - that is the question”. Oral communication skills in a broader profile of literacy: A high school teacher's quest for communicative competence in his chemistry classroom

Elizabeth A Tuleja, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The goal of any school is to help its students become literate. Broadly speaking, to be literate means to be well informed and educated. More specifically, literacy—or the ability to read and write—is encouraged through the language arts, which is usually characterized by activities that focus primarily on reading and writing skills. While reading and writing are absolutely essential to the academic success of any student, the aspect of speaking skills—or effective communication skills—is often considered ancillary instruction, something to do “if there is enough time,” since speaking is assumed to be an innate skill. This research focused on the place of oral communication skills in a broader profile for literacy and its place in every course across the curriculum. The research for this study took place over a nine month period and focused on documenting what one high school science teacher called, “reading, writing, research and recitation” in his 10th and 11 th grade chemistry class. His objective was to teach his chemistry students about the significance of developing oral communication competencies (specifically presentation skills), in the content course of chemistry. Through a descriptive, interpretive, and naturalistic study, I sought to better understand three questions. First, how did this particular teacher integrate oral communication skills into the content area of science? Second, how did the students react to this process and what did they learn from it. Third, what happened when an intervention took place whereby an experienced instructor in the field of communication education partnered with this science teacher in order to help integrate oral communication competencies into the curriculum? The focus of this research was to understand the process that this teacher went through as he attempted to integrate oral speech skills into the curriculum, as well as what the students did with this information while they developed their oral presentations. This study has provided a rich description for understanding the process of integrating oral communication skills into one high school science teacher's chemistry course. It has also looked at the issues of professional development, curriculum, and assessment, which were related concerns regarding this integration. This study may provide a much needed example for bringing together both secondary and higher education professionals who are concerned about what and how to teach oral communication skills in a broader profile of literacy in grades 9–12.

Subject Area

Science education|Communication

Recommended Citation

Tuleja, Elizabeth A, "“To speak or not to speak - that is the question”. Oral communication skills in a broader profile of literacy: A high school teacher's quest for communicative competence in his chemistry classroom" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9965583.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9965583

Share

COinS