Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Teacher Knowledge and Dispositions about the Role of Language in the Instruction of Elementary Emergent Bilinguals in the Content Classroom
by Stevens, Lillian Ardell, Ph.D., New York University, 2020, 189; 27735074
Abstract (Summary)

A teacher’s knowledge base about language, or Pedagogical Language Knowledge (PLK), is particularly relevant given that the modern US teaching force has seen a sizeable dearth of specialized language teachers to accommodate a steady rise in Emergent Bilinguals (EBs) across K-12 schools (NCES, 2016). When linguistically-informed teacher interventions have been levied to address this issue, a teacher’s dispositions about language has remained unexamined. This study aims to address this gap by exploring teacher PLK through a comparative case study of bilingual and mainstream teachers wherein each teacher’s language ideologies and beliefs about EBs are considered alongside their instructional practices in the social studies classroom. To achieve this goal, a novel discourse analytic method traced teacher dispositions through analysis of Big-D Discourses (Gee, 2014) to locate a teacher’s Figured World (Holland et al., 1998) of teaching EBs.

Data were collected in two phases: phase one included one semester of 13 classroom observations, post-observation and stimulated recall interviews around a language related episode. Phase two included a return to the classroom for two observations and one member- check interview. Analysis proceeded iteratively through analytical memoing and refinement of discourse analytical methods. The confluence of elicitation and observational techniques produced a rich data set of each teacher’s stated beliefs, observed practices, and stories about the language learning process and the learners themselves. Findings revealed PLK manifested primarily as word-level understandings, with a disproportionate focus on vocabulary instruction. Moreover, teachers seemed to possess a binary understanding of their EB’s language proficiency. Although teacher education continues to address the role of language in content instruction, a teacher’s dispositions about language and language learners remain powerful mediating variables that are difficult to overcome (Borg, 2003). Careful consideration of the need to cultivate reflective practitioners as a means to examine language ideologies is strongly encouraged.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nero, Shondel
Commitee: Ma, Jasmine, Gottlieb, Margo
School: New York University
Department: Teaching and Learning
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 81/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Bilingual education, Teacher education, Elementary education
Keywords: Content instruction, Discourse analysis, Emergent bilinguals, Figured worlds, Knowledge about language, Teacher dispositions
Publication Number: 27735074
ISBN: 9781392393178
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