College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University

Mason ESOL faculty partner with local teachers in supporting the use of infographics to enhance science literacy in multilingual learners

March 8, 2023

Dr. Sujin Kim

Faculty from the School of Education within George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) have partnered with six 4th and 5th grade science and language teachers at Neabsco Elementary School in Prince William County, Virginia on an initiative focused on the use of infographics in teaching science to multilingual learners. The project is named “Transmodalising with Technology in Science” (TTS) and is led by faculty from Mason’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Education program—Assistant Professor Dr. Sujin Kim and Associate Professor Dr. Kathleen Ramos. The TTS team also includes Cynthia Graville, an infographics design expert from St. Louis University, and Mason doctoral students Xiawoen Chen (Sylvia) and Eden Langston.

Dr. Kathleen Ramos

Funded by the Spencer Foundation, the TTS initiative supports science and ESOL teachers who are learning how to integrate infographics into their pedagogical practices with the goal of enhancing science literacy in young multilingual learners. A key premise of TTS is that using infographics as a teaching tool aligns with science as a discipline and enables multilingual learners to leverage multiple resources that provide opportunities to learn in multimodal ways.

The project kicked off on September 14, 2022, with an onsite meeting held at Neabsco Elementary School during which TTS team members engaged with educators to provide them a better understanding of how the visual representation of data and information in infographics could be used in the teaching and learning of science. Several subsequent workshops were conducted by TTS representatives throughout the fall which addressed topics such as infographics teaching and its benefits for multilingual learners; curriculum planning with infographics; helping students with the identification of topics amenable to presentation as an infographic; the use of the Canva software application in designing infographics; and how to incorporate infographics in lesson planning and the curriculum.

Reflecting on the TTS initiative, Dr. Kim stated that through this project, “we get to see all the students’ new projects; we get to understand how their thinking process is developed, and how teachers’ teaching has also developed around infographics lessons.” She observed that “science is a multimodal discipline and that learning in multimodal ways reinforces language and literacy development, but also the learning of science concepts.”

Teachers at the Neabsco school who are piloting and implementing the use of infographics in their classroom had positive things to say about the results they are seeing. One educator who is a Neabsco ESOL teacher emphasized, “The [infographic) design is like another element of language. It’s them [students] figuring out how do I want to say this...what [do] I want to communicate. It’s another step of their thinking and analyzing and really kind of critiquing what they're trying to achieve out of it.”

To learn more about this initiative, visit the TTS website.