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Project Team

Shakhnoza Kayumova (PI)
Kym Welty
Suzanne Cardello
Charlemya Erasme
Jane Ji

Funding Agency

National Science Foundation


Project Aim

Over 5.4 million of the U.S. public school students are identified as English language learners (ELLs), with 4.4 million being Spanish-speaking. Despite the increasing culturally and linguistically diverse population of students and growing demands for STEM jobs, research has noted mounting disparities in English language learners’ science achievement and their substantial underrepresentation in the STEM workforce. Addressing the growing disparities between English language learners and their counterparts in STEM fields remains a national priority. This CAREER project examines the empirical nexus between ELL students’ language identity and science identity development. The project addresses the pressing need for empirical studies that combine theoretical perspectives from second language education, linguistics, and science education to understand science identity development among English language learners. Based on social positioning theory, the research argues that English language learners’ disadvantaged positioning in their educational experiences (due to their limited language proficiencies) undermines their developing educational identities. 

What we do in this project

Utilizing longitudinal mixed-methods design based research, this study examines the role of social positioning on English language  learners’ science identity development. The central premise is that robust STE(A)M learning ecologies that start from, and build from, students’ community and family knowledge, skills, and resources, support boosting English language learners’ language identities, and positioning them as cognitively advantaged will positively interact with ELLs’ learning and identifying with science, namely their science identities.

Where does the research take place

 The proposed research takes place at STE(A)M Summer Out-of-School (OST) Program in Southern Massachusetts. The project includes middle school students, who come from ethnically/racially, linguistically diverse students from Gateway cities in Southern Massachusetts.

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