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IES Grant

Title: Promoting Science among English Language Learners (P-SELL): Efficacy and Sustainability
Center: NCER Year: 2009
Principal Investigator: Lee, Okhee Awardee: University of Miami
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $2,999,918
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A090281
Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Randall Penfield

Purpose: As the school-aged population continues to become more racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse, English language learning (ELL) students can now be found in virtually every school in the nation. For ELL students, content area instruction, such as science, should provide a meaningful learning environment for English language and literacy development. At the same time, improving English skills should provide the medium for understanding academic content. In reality, however, ELL students frequently confront the demands of academic learning through a yet-unmastered language without the instructional support they need. As a result, ELL students often fall behind their English-speaking peers in content areas. Thus, an intervention to promote academic learning with ELL students is needed, especially in content areas such as science. To address this need, the researchers intend to evaluate the efficacy of the Promoting Science among English Language Learners (P-SELL) curriculum.

Project Activities: The P-SELL curriculum is a full year science curriculum designed to promote standards-based, inquiry-driven science learning and focuses on science instruction with ELL students to enhance understanding of science and acquisition of English language and literacy. To evaluate the efficacy of the P-SELL curriculum, this project will use a randomized experimental design in which all grade 5 classrooms in schools assigned to the treatment condition will use the P-SELL curriculum to teach science, while all grade 5 classrooms in schools assigned to the control condition will use their standard curriculum.

Products: The products of this project include evidence of the efficacy of the P-SELL curriculum at grade 5 and published reports.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The setting for this study includes large urban and suburban school districts throughout Florida.

Population: The study sample will consist of grade 5 teachers and their students from 64 schools. The schools in the sample will have diverse compositions of elementary students designated as limited-English proficient (LEP).

Intervention: The P-SELL curriculum is a full year science curriculum that includes a complete set of class materials, including the student book, teachers' guide, science supplies, and trade books related to science topics. The curriculum is designed to promote standards-based, inquiry-driven science learning. It focuses on science instruction with ELL students to enhance understanding of science and acquisition of English language and literacy by incorporating the following strategies into the curriculum: (1) strategies for literacy development (reading and writing) of all students; (2) language support strategies with ELL students; (3) linguistic scaffolding for ELL students during classroom discourse; and (4) drawing on students' home language as instructional support. The curriculum contains 16 chapters clustered under 4 science domains: Physical and Chemical sciences; Earth and Space sciences; Life and Environmental sciences; and Scientific Thinking. The curriculum is designed to be implemented 2 to 3 hours per week throughout the school year.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will randomly assign 32 schools to the treatment condition and 32 schools to the control condition. Treatment schools will implement the P-SELL curriculum in all their Grade 5 classes for 3 years. During the first two years of implementation, teachers in the treatment group will receive professional development training, but during the third year of implementation, teachers will not receive additional professional development in order to assess the sustainability of the intervention.

Control Condition: Teachers in the control condition will teach their grade 5 students using the standard curriculum in place at the school.

Key Measures: Student achievement in science, the key outcome measure in the study, will be assessed by a researcher-developed science test, along with the state standardized science achievement test as part of school accountability.

Data Analytic Strategy: A three-level hierarchical linear model, with students nested within classrooms nested within schools, will be used to estimate the impact of the P-SELL curriculum on students' science achievement. Within this modeling framework, the moderating effect of ELL classroom composition will be examined to determine the extent to which the P-SELL curriculum has differential effects on science achievement across ELL groups.

Project Website: http://sites.education.miami.edu/psell/for-p-sell-teachers/

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Diamond, B., Maerten-Rivera, J., Rohrer, R., and Lee, O. (2014). Effectiveness of a Curricular and Professional Development Intervention at Improving Elementary Teachers' Science Content Knowledge and Student Achievement Outcomes: Year 1 Results. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51 (5): 635–658.

Diamond, B.S., Maerten-Rivera, J., Rohrer, R., and Lee, O. (2013). Elementary Teachers' Science Content Knowledge: Relationships Among Multiple Measures. Florida Journal of Educational Research, 51 , 1–20.

Maerten-Rivera, J., Ahn, S., Lanier, K., Diaz, J. and Lee, O. (2016). Effect of a Multiyear Intervention on Science Achievement of All Students Including English Language Learners.. Elementary School Journal, 116 (4): 600–624.


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