Simon Rees (Durham University, UK)
Durham University’s Foundation Centre (North East England) provides the opportunity for non-traditional students (e.g. mature or with few formal qualifications) to pursue a degree in the chemical sciences e.g. chemistry, medicine, biomedical science and earth sciences. This paper reports on our research into the use of different strategies to develop understanding and the use of subject specific language in chemistry. Similarities are often drawn between learning scientific and a foreign language e.g. Rincke (2010). This is because, for students to be successful, they have to comprehend and make use of a new and developing vocabulary in order to communicate within the subject area. These challenges of increasing and developing their subject vocabulary are particularly significant for non-traditional students. We describe our current work to develop a chemistry corpus (Higher Education Academy funded FOCUS project) and the implementation of online resources to encourage the development of student explanations of scientific terms via a student constructed E-glossary. We reflect on the contribution of these different resources in conjunction with a range of teaching strategies to the development of student understanding and how the resources can be enhanced in the future.