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Presented By: Department of Chemistry

The role of language in learning, communicating, and doing chemistry

Jacky Deng

Having a shared language such as English facilitates globalization of science, but it may also limit science by posing unique challenges for those who are learning English-as-an-additional language (Eng+). Research is needed on the experiences of learners and scientists from Eng+ backgrounds to ensure that all members of our scientific community have the opportunity to learn and contribute, especially as our classrooms and research groups become increasingly diverse.

In this seminar, I will share two of our studies on the experiences of Eng+ learners in chemistry education. Our first study examined how undergraduate science students (N = 166) justified a chemical phenomenon in English and how this related to students' English proficiency. Our second study explored the experiences of Eng+ chemistry research trainees (N = 18) in learning, communicating, and doing chemistry in English. We explored challenges these trainees faced, but also strategies and supports they found helpful and needed from supervisors/colleagues and departments. Alongside findings from both projects, I will share implications for teaching and mentorship, with special attention to what may be relevant to making learning and research more equitable at the University of Michigan.

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