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ERIC Number: ED552164
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 493
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-2678-8436-7
Exploring English Language Learners (ELL) Experiences with Scientific Language and Inquiry within a Real Life Context
Algee, Lisa M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz
English Language Learners (ELL) are often at a distinct disadvantage from receiving authentic science learning opportunites. This study explored English Language Learners (ELL) learning experiences with scientific language and inquiry within a real life context. This research was theoretically informed by sociocultural theory and literature on student learning and science teaching for ELL. A qualitative, case study was used to explore students' learning experiences. Data from multiple sources was collected: student interviews, science letters, an assessment in another context, field-notes, student presentations, inquiry assessment, instructional group conversations, parent interviews, parent letters, parent homework, teacher-researcher evaluation, teacher-researcher reflective journal, and student ratings of learning activities. These data sources informed the following research questions: (1) Does participation in an out-of-school contextualized inquiry science project increase ELL use of scientific language? (2) Does participation in an out-of-school contextualized inquiry science project increase ELL understanding of scientific inquiry and their motivation to learn? (3) What are parents' funds of knowledge about the local ecology and does this inform students' experiences in the science project? All data sources concerning students were analyzed for similar patterns and trends and triangulation was sought through the use of these data sources. The remaining data sources concerning the teacher-researcher were used to inform and assess whether the pedagogical and research practices were in alignment with the proposed theoretical framework. Data sources concerning parental participation accessed funds of knowledge, which informed the curriculum in order to create continuity and connections between home and school. To ensure accuracy in the researchers' interpretations of student and parent responses during interviews, member checking was employed. The findings suggest that participation in an out-of-school contextualized inquiry science project increased ELL use of scientific language and understanding of scientific inquiry and motivation to learn. In addition, parent' funds of knowledge informed students' experiences in the science project. These findings suggest that the learning and teaching practices and the real life experiential learning contexts served as an effective means for increasing students' understandings and motivation to learn. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A