Rosalyn Giallanza Ed.D. Proposal Defense: “Emergent Bilinguals and Mathematical Discourse: A Qualitative Study Examining Elementary Teacher Beliefs and Practices”

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

ABSTRACT: “Despite their increasing presence in U.S. schools, emergent bilinguals tend to underperform academically, especially in mathematics. Emergent bilinguals experience various challenges in developing competency in mathematics, including the need to understand the disciplinary literacy of mathematics, a complex system that includes proficiency, practices, and discourse. Research demonstrates that many teachers are ill-equipped to teach academic content to diverse learners (Lucas & Villegas, 2011; Ross, 2014; Turkan & de Jong, 2018; Willey et al., 2017), specifically mathematics to emergent bilinguals (Chval et al., 2015; Roth McDuffie et al., 2014; Turkan, 2016; Turner et al., 2012). Despite the research suggesting that emergent bilinguals benefit from opportunities to engage in conversation in mathematics, these practices are often not implemented in early elementary classrooms because teachers often view these students from a deficit lens, resulting in few opportunities to engage in rigorous higher-order thinking tasks and with limited to no discursive opportunities to develop the English and mathematical language. Few studies have focused on teachers’ understanding of emergent bilinguals, the teaching of mathematics, and how they encourage mathematical discourse with this population. This qualitative study aims to examine elementary teacher beliefs and practices about emergent bilinguals, the teaching of mathematics, and discourse. Using lesson plans and semi-structured interviews of 15-20 first to third-grade elementary school teachers, this study aims to answer the research questions: (1) What are elementary teachers’ beliefs about emergent bilingual students and the learning of mathematics and discourse? (2) What practices do elementary teachers employ with emergent bilinguals and mathematics? (3) How do teachers’ beliefs and reported practices align with research-based practices for encouraging mathematical discourse with emergent bilinguals? and (4) What do teachers’ reported beliefs and practices suggest for teacher education and professional development? By exploring elementary teachers’ beliefs and practices, it might be possible to gain insight into what they know about mathematics and emergent bilinguals and the challenges they face teaching mathematics to this population. This knowledge can then inform teacher education and professional development opportunities that might help elementary teachers effectively include emergent bilinguals in the mathematics classroom.”

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