DISSERTATION DEFENSE ANNOUNCEMENT Ph.D. in Education Program: Daniela Tîrnovan “Designing Translanguaging Spaces and Pedagogies in Second-Grade Mathematics Classrooms”

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Elementary mathematics classrooms are increasingly becoming linguistically and culturally diverse, presenting rich opportunities for leveraging students’ linguistic resources in learning and engaging in mathematical practices. However, there is limited research on the role of adopting a translanguaging paradigm in this context. This dissertation investigates how second-grade dual-language teachers implement translanguaging pedagogies and spaces, potentially shaping students’ translanguaging practices when reasoning in mathematics. Guided by the Translanguaging Structures Framework (TSF), (Tîrnovan, 2023), which illustrates the interplay of global and local systemic and societal structures, this qualitative study encompasses three interconnected papers exploring translanguaging in mathematics education.

The study draws on data from extensive classroom observations, teacher surveys, student interviews, and analysis of student artifacts. These were gathered over several months of collaborative engagement between researchers and teachers in two second-grade classrooms within an urban elementary school in New Jersey’s dual-language program. Using a three-article format, each paper in this dissertation examines different aspects of the research objectives.

The first paper engages the TSF to review and reconceptualizes existing research on translanguaging in the field of mathematics research through the lens of global and local structures from teacher and student perspectives. By quadranting the literature into these dimensions, the review offers valuable insights into the complex interplay of language hierarchies, policies, ideologies, and classroom practices that shape translanguaging in mathematics classrooms. This synthesis reveals the intricate interconnectedness of global and local factors influencing translanguaging practices and highlights a potential disconnect between the ideological aspirations of translanguaging and its practical classroom implementation.

The second paper employs a design-based research methodology to examine how purposefully designed and implemented translanguaging spaces and pedagogies shape students’ translanguaging practices in a second-grade dual-language classroom. Through collaborative work with teachers, the study reveals the transformative potential of these spaces in creating a learning environment that transcends traditional language separation mandates and empowers students to leverage their full linguistic repertoires for mathematical meaning-making. Four emergent themes are identified: Leveraging Power Dynamics, Learning-based Translanguaging, Critical Translanguaging Spaces, and Learning through Empowerment, Identity, and Funds of Knowledge.

The third paper utilizes a qualitative case study approach to explore the implementation of critical translanguaging spaces (CTS) and their impact on students’ translanguaging agency in mathematics learning. Through the analysis of three CTS episodes – student interviews, a meta-translanguaging easel activity, and student-authored math books – the study illuminates the multidimensional nature of students’ translanguaging agency and its fluid co-construction through social interactions within mathematics learning contexts.

The findings from these studies underscore the transformative potential of translanguaging pedagogies and spaces in enhancing mathematical understanding and equity for emergent multilingual learners. This dissertation further highlights the crucial role of collaborative teacher-researcher efforts in catalyzing and cultivating translanguaging activities in the mathematics classroom. It offers practical implications for curriculum design, teacher development, and educational policy aimed at creating more inclusive and empowering mathematics learning environments.

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