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Associations between Australian studentsí literacy achievement in early secondary school and senior secondary participation in science: accessing cultural and science capital


Cooper, G and Thomas, DP and Prain, V and Fraser, S, Associations between Australian students' literacy achievement in early secondary school and senior secondary participation in science: accessing cultural and science capital, International Journal of Science Education ISSN 0950-0693 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

DOI: doi:10.1080/09500693.2022.2086317


Many factors are claimed to explain Australian studentsí declining participation rates in senior secondary science subjects. These include, for instance, the influences of SES, indigeneity, and gender. While acknowledging the compelling case for these factors affecting student pathways, in this study we explore associations between studentsí literacy achievement test scores in early secondary school and their senior secondary participation in science. Our analyses of Australian national literacy testing data indicated that students who subsequently studied physics, chemistry, and biology showed stronger foundational literacy competence than students not studying these subjects. Drawing on a Bourdieusian perspective, this research explores the conversion of cultural capital, in the form of language literacy achievement, into science capital. We consider that these findings (a) reconfirm the foundational role of literacy in all science learning, and (b) support a growing research agenda that focuses on how students can learn the particular literacies of science before senior secondary study. Our findings also have broader implications for policy and practices that support school student participation in science study.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:participation in science; cultural and science capital, science literacy, literacy achievement, Bourdieu
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Science, technology and engineering curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Schools and learning environments
Objective Field:Equity and access to education
UTAS Author:Cooper, G (Mr Grant Cooper)
UTAS Author:Prain, V (Professor Vaughan Prain)
UTAS Author:Fraser, S (Professor Sharon Fraser)
ID Code:150456
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2022-06-16
Last Modified:2022-08-01
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