Dissertation: Behind the words – contextual concept structures of language immersion students

Uutisen oletuskuva
Elina Nevasaari examines how students construct and verbalize concepts by observing three content-specific, natural scientific, concepts describing how animals acclimatize to the winter in Finland.

The data includes 344 essays written by Swedish-language immersion students and 100 essays written by students in basic education for native Swedish speakers in Finland. All students were in grades 3, 6 or 9.

– I observe the possible differences and similarities in concept construction both between the examined grades and between the groups of students using either their second or first language. I approach my research questions by using terminological concept analysis which shows the consistency of the characteristics of the concepts, Nevasaari tells.

The analysis indicates that the examined natural scientific concepts differ in nature and that it is possible to define differences both in concept intension and in the characteristics that students associate with the concepts in different grades. Additionally some differences in how second and first language users verbalize concepts were found.

When analyzing the results in relation to Cummins’ (1984) framework for evaluating language demand in content activities and in relation to curriculum the results indicates that concept intension and combinations of characteristics are connected to the students’ cognitive development.

– The teacher should be aware of differences between concepts, concept intensions and how different concepts are being verbalized in subject teaching in immersion. The results of this study can be utilized in class planning to promote students’ use of language for special purposes, especially in integrated language and content teaching in immersion, Nevasaari explains.

Public defence

The public examination of Elina Nevasaari’s doctoral dissertation ”Bakom orden – språkbadselevers kontextuella begreppstrukturering” is on Friday 20 March at 12 o’clock at auditorium Kurtén (Tervahovi). Professor Pirkko Nuolijärvi will act as an opponent and professor Nina Pilke as a custos.

Orders and pdf

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