Professor Mary Jane Curry Co-edits, Professor Jeffrey Choppin Contributes to New Book Exploring the Role of Applied Linguistics in STEM Education
Language and literacy play an important and increasingly recognized role in the practice of, and education about, science and technology. As scholars, policymakers, and educators focus on how to best educate young people in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), a new book examines the contributions that applied linguistics and literacy can make in these fields. In Language, Literacy, and Learning in STEM Education (John Benjamins, June 2014), scholars explore the ways that linguistic knowledge can advance the description, understanding, education, and practice of STEM.
University of Rochester Warner School of Education professor Mary Jane Curry and co-editor David Hanauer, a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, have compiled a collection of studies and projects from researchers and professionals in the fields of language studies and STEM education. These contributions offer new perspectives on how language and literacy can help facilitate and innovate various aspects of STEM education. In addition to editing the new book, Curry co-authored the introduction and contributed a chapter to the volume. The book also features a chapter by Warner School professor Jeffrey Choppin.
“The aim of this book is to exemplify the ways in which applied linguistics knowledge and expertise can be useful in researching, understanding, and improving issues that have arisen within the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering,” Curry and Hanauer explain in the opening chapter. “This book presents a collection of studies that exemplify the value of research on the ways that language and literacy function in the STEM fields and how these understandings are communicated to others.”
The volume, the first in a new book series on language studies, science, and engineering, will be of interest to applied linguists and STEM professionals working in education and administration, as well as funding agencies interested in interdisciplinary endeavors.
Divided into three sections on science, engineering, and mathematics, the book introduces the interdisciplinary field of applied linguistics/literacy studies in STEM. It provides an overview of the concepts and methodologies that underpin these projects as well as features a number of ways that applied linguistics can work in the STEM fields. The benefits of the interdisciplinary interaction between applied linguists and practitioners in the various fields of STEM are highlighted throughout the book’s 10 chapters.
Curry lends her expertise to Language, Literacy, and Learning in STEM Education with a chapter presenting findings from her study of the experiences of engineers in publishing research. Her chapter, titled “Graphics and Invention in Academic Engineers’ Writing for Publication,” focuses on the role that graphics play in invention—the moment when scholars identify the research results they want to present and decide on the arguments they choose to make—in the writing of articles for publication. Key findings of her research show that engineers begin the writing process with graphical displays of research, rather than reserve the use of these visuals for the final stages of writing. These findings suggest that faculty working with students on writing projects consider the value of graphics in text production, not only as illustrations, but also for identifying research findings and shaping arguments. Curry also suggests that writing guides and other materials on research dissemination be grounded in empirical evidence about engineers’ writing practices.
In addition to publishing numerous educational and linguistics journal articles, Curry has also co-authored A Scholars’ Guide to Getting Published in English: Critical Choices and Practical Strategies (Multilingual Matters, 2013), Academic Writing in a Global Context: The Politics and Practices of Publishing in English (Routledge, 2010), and Teaching Academic Writing: A Toolkit for Higher Education (Routledge, 2002). She also serves as principal investigator for a 2012-17 National Professional Development grant from the U.S. Department of Education. In 2014, she was a Fulbright Fellow in Chile.
Choppin contributed the chapter, “Learning While Teaching: How Classroom Discourse Practices Mediate Mathematics Teachers’ Learning About Student Thinking.” The findings in Choppin’s chapter highlight the importance of connecting teacher practices not only to student learning but also to what teachers know about how students learn mathematics. The chapter presents examples of classroom discussions to illustrate the various types of listening/language patterns and their implications for teacher learning. Choppin also demonstrates the value of discourse analysis to understanding mathematics classroom practices of teaching and learning.
Choppin, who directs the mathematics education program at the Warner School, focuses his research on teachers’ perceptions and uses of curriculum materials in the context of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. His research links teachers’ discourse practices, observations of student thinking, understanding of curriculum materials, and the ways their adaptions of curriculum materials enhance students’ opportunities to engage in mathematical practices.
About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education (www.warner.rochester.edu) offers master’s and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, educational policy, counseling, human development, and health professions education. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its EdD programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform.
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