Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Latina/o English language learner student experiences and opportunities in linked learning environments
by Habrun, Yvette, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2016, 135; 10252994
Abstract (Summary)

Latinos continue to be the most numerous subgroup of the population in the state of California, and the population of Latinos is predicted to increase significantly by the year 2020. Educators are challenged to foster academic and educational environments to support all students in a diverse student body, yet English language learners or ELLs have had an extensive history of economic disparity and poor school performance; therefore as the state’s numbers of English language learners steadily increase, teachers and staff need additional support and best practices to prepare students for success in K-12 and beyond. It is imperative to analyze the effects of small learning communities, specifically Linked Learning in high schools, and how they promote successful outcomes for Latina/o students.

This qualitative study examined the experiences of English language learner Latina/o students in a Linked Learning pathway program located in a large urban school district in Southern California. Data collection included classroom observations using a modified Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), participant interviews, program documents, and enrollment. Data were analyzed to explore ways in which a high school Linked Learning pathway program supported the educational needs of 12th grade Latina/o English language learner students. The findings from this case study indicated Latina/o English language learners felt supported despite barriers experienced with English comprehension early on in high school. Effective classroom instruction practices were also evidenced by the SIOP protocol, with six elements hypothesized to be characteristics of the Linked Learning model: Meaningful activities through integrating lesson concepts with language practice opportunities, concepts linked to students’ background experiences, comprehensible input, questions and tasks promoting higher order thinking skills, frequent student interaction, discussion and group work, and applying content with hands-on materials. Students and staff members echoed the sentiment of a familial environment between staff and students, and students felt their participation in Linked Learning had assisted them in being prepared for postsecondary options for college and career opportunities. Although there are efforts to provide equitable outcomes for all English language learners, beginning and intermediate level students who have not mastered the English language were not eligible to participate in Linked Learning or other college-bound academies offered. Staff members noted there is still work to be done, and have acknowledged there are continued efforts in supporting and meeting the academic needs of all populations of students including English language learners.

Findings and recommendations indicate the need for refining district policy on supporting English learners, and updating resources for school staff. There is a need for specialized training and professional development for staff and counselors in meeting the needs of all English learners district wide. The findings from this study have the potential to impact educational leaders in best supporting and providing equity and access for all English language learners.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Reese, Leslie
Commitee: Anderson, Felicia, Stallones, Jared
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: English as a Second Language
Keywords: English language learners, Linked learning, Small learning communities
Publication Number: 10252994
ISBN: 978-1-369-51203-8
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