Announcement of Ed.D. Dissertation Defense: Emergent Bilinguals in YPAR: Agency, Engagement, Translanguaging and Relationships

Thursday, March 26, 2020 10:00am - 12:00pm

GSE 211

This phenomenological case study of emergent bilingual Latinx students in a suburban public high school district examined engagement and language use in a Youth Participatory Action Research curricular unit. This contrasts with more typical remediated learning experiences, which often result in disengagement, failure and dropout (Callahan, 2013; Menken, 2008; Scown, 2018).
   YPAR is an effective approach for increasing engagement through the validation of student knowledge, the inclusion of authentic learning, and the promotion of student agency (Cammarota and Fine, 2008; Mirra, Garcia and Morrell, 2016; Ozer & Wright, 2012). Translanguaging promotes student voice by validating student linguistic knowledge and providing a space where students are permitted to use their complete linguistic repertoires (Canagarajah, 2015; Garcia, 2017). For emergent bilingual Latinx students, traditional classrooms limit linguistic agency of students by prescribing the use of English and discouraging the use of Spanish, thus denying student voice and agency.

This study sought to explore student experiences in a YPAR context where students had access to their complete linguistic repertoires.
   Research findings indicated that student choice of topic promoted engagement. While students took more active roles than in other settings, agency fluctuated from students to adults in YPAR program activities. YPAR created an environment of linguistic agency, and students engaged in translanguaging primarily to negotiate meaning. Students also experienced increased interactions with teachers and peers, resulting in an enhanced sense of belonging to the school community. While the majority of students demonstrated high engagement and experienced academic success, during the yearlong program several students experienced failure and dropout, due to challenges including poverty, trauma and family separation.
   Implications for school districts include the importance of providing programs of inquiry and agency for youth that validate prior experiences and knowledge. Additional implications point to the need for language policies that permit the use of home languages in school settings, as well as the detrimental effects of high-stakes accountability guidelines in providing high-quality educational experiences for students of color.
   Keywords: at risk students, engagement, English language learners, high school students, Latinx students, participatory action research, sense of belonging, student agency, translanguaging.


Who to contact:

Laura Arredondo