Four Decades of Research and Evaluation
This lexicon represents many years of evolution of a science sign resource, beginning with the NTID Technical Signs Project in the early 1970s to the current resource, which includes more than 2200 science terms/signs. The evolution is briefly described on this page.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the NTID Technical Signs Project developed videotapes and books with science and math signs. The project used a process of COLLECTING, EVALUATING and SYSTEMATIC RECORDING (CESR)
First Technical Signs Project book for science and mathematics signs.
Second Technical Signs Book developed with the Technical Signs Project (TSP) at NTID.
Over the first decade, we realized that finding the most popular signs for science terms was not the best solution. Rather, the best CONCEPTUALLY ACCURATE signs became the goal. Discussions of the concept represented by the sign led to ongoing revisions of the lexicon.
We also realized that permanent (unchangeable) resources such as books or videotapes did not allow for the continuous evolution of signs that comes from research and discussion. An online lexicon allows for replacement of videos on a regular basis as feedback is received.
The development of the current online lexicon (NTID SCIENCE SIGNS LEXICON) has been based on three National Science Foundation grants:
1) AESOP (Access to English and Science Outreach Project) - 8 regional workshops with science teachers.
2) COMETS (Clearinghouse On Mathematics, Engineering, Technology and Science) - Asynchronous (any time - any place access) Online Resource
3) CLASSROOM OF THE SEA (NTID, UCONN, American School for the Deaf) - Marine Science signs developed over four years.
CONCEPTUAL ACCURACY has become the most critical focus of this lexicon project.
Some signs may communicate misconceptions to young deaf children. For example, the traditional sign for SHARK with the hand near the forehead may miscommunicate, especially to younger learners, that a fin is located on the head of the animal. We avoid this sign.
Similarly, the sign for ELECTRON is often made in a manner that shows it orbiting the nucleus of the atom. Electrons do not orbit the nucleus. We avoid this sign for that reason.
With such a focus on conceptual accuracy, we welcomed suggestions for improving the signs.
RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS ON TECHNICAL SCIENCE SIGNS
Some research studies we have conducted on science signs are listed below:
We published a number of research articles based on our studies:
Lang, H.G., Laporta Hupper, M., Monte, D., Scheifele, P., Brown, S., Babb, I. (2007). A
study of technical signs in science: Implications for lexical database development. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 12, 65-79.
Lang, H.G., & Pagliaro, C. (2007). Factors Predicting Recall of Mathematics Terms by Deaf Students: Implications for Teaching. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 12, 449-460.
Tedeschi, M., Lang, H.G. (Capstone Project). Recall and
Comprehension of Signs by High School Students: A Study of Two Movie Formats for an Online Lexical Database.
Dowaliby, F.J., & Lang, H.G. (1999). Adjunct aids to instructional prose: A multimedia study with deaf college students. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 4, 270-282.
Lang, H.G., and Steely, D. (2003). Web-based science instruction for deaf students: What research says to the teacher. Instructional Science, 31, 277-298
THROUGH THE YEARS, UP TO 2011 WHEN HARRY LANG RETIRED, WE HAD CONTINUOUS EFFORTS TO EVALUATE THE SCIENCE SIGNS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF SCIENTISTS, SCIENCE TEACHERS,
AND SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETERS EXPERIENCED IN FIELDS OF SCIENCE.
ONE YEAR, WE INCLUDED TEN DEAF NATIVE SIGNERS WITH DEGREES IN SCIENCE/MATHEMATICS (plus two ASL linguists) who spent a summer discussing and evaluating many of the signs in this lexicon.
AT ANOTHER TIME, EDUCATORS FROM FIVE SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF EVALUATED COLLECTIONS OF THESE SIGNS AND PROVIDED FEEDBACK RELATED TO THE NEED FOR STANDARDIZATION WITHIN A SCHOOL.
THEN, FOR MANY YEARS AN ONLINE LEXICON EVALUATION PERMITTED ALL USERS TO RATE EACH SIGN ON A 1-5 SCALE AND SUBMIT THEIR OWN SIGNS WHEN THEY COULD.
Previous evaluations have shown many different opinions about science signs.
Example: WHALE (Three signs. One sign showed a "W handshape swimming across the screen. For teachers of young deaf children, this sign was distinguished from a "D" handshape for DOLPHIN and a "P handshape for PORPOISE). A second sign used a classifier (Y handshape) showing the animal's tail. The third sign showed a spouting motion from the top of the head. All three signs are generally acceptable in terms of conceptual representation.
Below are some examples of feedback showing different perspectives on the three signs for WHALE.
I like number 2. I just did not like number 3, even though I think it is a whale spouting water. Number 2 and 1 are similar, but number two gives a bigger hand sign for whale, and since whales are big, it gets the point across better.
I liked sign 3 the best, the other 2 seemed more confusing and I would feel more comfortable using sign 3.
I like sign 3 the best
sign 2 is the best....i liked sign 1 as well, but again it reminds me more of a current or wave than an animal, in sign 2 he emphasizes the animal
Sign 3. This sign looks just like water coming out of the blow hole of a whale which is a key feature in describing whales. (note: This is incorrect. AIR is expelled)
The third sign because it was a definitely water (this teacher meant air) spouting and the other two looked like fish or dolphins.
I like sign 2 because it looks similar to the movements of whales in the water.
In some schools we found two or three different signs being used. There was no effort to standardize a sign throughout the school.
There are also regional variations of many signs. For example, the sign for CRAB in one part of the U.S. may be the sign for LOBSTER in another part, and Vice Versa.
We have worked with professionals involved with science signs in other projectsL
ASL STEM FORUM
- THE FORUM (IN WASHINGTON STATE) UPLOADED MANY OF OUR SIGNS TO THEIR WEBSITE ON YOUTUBE
VCOM3D - WE CONTINUED WORK WITH VCOM3D WHICH LED TO MORE AND MORE CONCEPTUAL ACCURACY THROUGH DISCUSSIONS (SOCIAL NETWORKING)
Several chemistry teachers at NTID and several biology teachers at Gallaudet worked with us to identify the "best" signs from their perspective.
Space Camp participants and interpreters might be interested in the signs developed in our category ASTRONOMY AND SPACE SCIENCE.
Sign Video Tutorials
We developed a series of videos helping teachers and interpreters see the various challenges we faced in developing the NTID Science Signs Lexicon.
Example: In this video, Dr. Chris Kurz explains some general signs for the terms SOLID, LIQUID, and GAS. Then he shows how some teachers prefer to explain the concept through a different emphasis – the molecular structure of solids, liquids and gases.