Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Transdisciplinary Approaches to Improving Opportunities and Outcomes for English Learners: Using Engagement, Team-Based Learning, and Formative Assessment to Develop Content and Language Proficiency
Center: NCER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Francis, David Awardee: University of Houston
Program: Education Research and Development Centers      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (09/01/2020 - 08/31/2025) Award Amount: $9,999,999
Type: Multiple Goals Award Number: R305C200016

Topics: English language learners research

Co-Principal Investigators: Carlson, Coleen; Miciak, Jeremy; Kieffer, Michael; Llosa, Lorena; Donovan, Suzanne; Vaughn, Sharon; Martinez, Leticia; Capin, Philip; Gomez, Joel; August, Diane

Focused Program of Research: The Transdisciplinary Approaches to Improving Opportunities and Outcomes for English Learners (the center) will undertake a focused program of research aimed at identifying and removing barriers related to school tracking through analysis of administrative and newly collected data using a mixed methods approach. In addition, the center will develop and test interventions that leverage four transdisciplinary approaches intended to improve instruction for English learners (ELs) in grade 6 and grade 9 science and social studies that make up the central tenets of effective strategies for instructing ELs identified by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (2017; 2018). The transdisciplinary levers include (1) foregrounding content to build language through content instruction; (2) using activities that are engaging and meaningful to students while involving students in the practices of the discipline; (3) using organizing learning in heterogeneous teams (Team-Based Learning, TBL) to promote collaboration, discussion, and social motivation; and (4) making use of formative assessment both to improve teachers' and students' understanding of students' development and to also promote responsive instruction and feedback to students.

Over the 5-year program of research, center researchers will carry out 9 randomized controlled trials that will examine the efficacy of these instructional strategies and their adaptation for improving outcomes for ELs in science and social studies and extensive policy work aimed at identifying the factors related to school tracking practices and system-level barriers that block ELs from participating in the general curriculum.

Setting: The focused program of research will take place in the states of Massachusetts, New York, and Texas, primarily, although policy work will extend beyond these states. Intervention research will be concentrated in schools inside major urban districts in these states and potentially in districts in and around the border of the U.S. and Mexico in later years.

Sample: The sample will consist of teachers and students, including current ELs, former ELs, and students not designated as ELs in general education classrooms in science and social studies in grades 6 and 9 in all 3 states. These individuals will participate in the development of the interventions and in the testing of their efficacy for improving outcomes. Studies vary in size from 8 teachers and multiple sections of science or social studies per teacher, to multiple science and social studies teachers and their associated sections in 30 middle schools and high schools. Policy work will involve city, state, and national extant databases that link course-taking with student outcomes, language proficiency development, classroom composition, and postsecondary outcomes. These data will be linked to survey data from teachers, counselors, and administrators from six schools in three partner districts who are assisting in intervention development.

National Leadership and Outreach Activities: A systematic program of outreach and dissemination will take place at national, state, regional, and local levels. Through social media and web-based platforms, the center will provide cost-free materials and professional development, including webinars, focus on practice, and research briefs. The center will host an annual national conference bringing together researchers and practitioners, the location of which is systematically moved around the country to improve access to local personnel. Sessions at the conference will be videotaped and archived for those who cannot attend. Scientific publication and participation in research and practitioner conferences by center investigators will also occur regularly.

Related Projects: Center for Research on the Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners (CREATE) (R305A050056); Improving the Accuracy of Academic Vocabulary Assessment for English Language Learners (R305A170151); Word Generation: An Efficacy Trial (R305A090555); Understanding Malleable Cognitive Processes and Integrated Comprehension Interventions for Grades 712 (R305F100013); Catalyzing Comprehension Through Discussion and Debate (R305F100026)

IES Program Contact: Helyn Kim
Telephone: (202) 245-6890