Preparing Science Teachers To Engage Multilingual Learners in Scientific Argumentation Through Mixed-Reality Simulations
Effective Years: 2024-2026
Multilingual learners are the fastest growing student population in the United States. Therefore, it is concerning that they have shown poor performance on national science assessments. Despite this concern, few teachers report feeling prepared to engage them in science instruction. This project aims to prepare science teachers to increase their knowledge, skill and efficacy in facilitating multilingual learners' engagement in scientific argumentation, which is an essential skill in science education. Teaching scientific argumentation is critical because it empowers students to express their thoughts, make decisions and solve problems in daily life. For multilingual learners to engage in scientific argumentation, this requires teachers to be able to elicit their thinking while also paying attention to language. Teachers must note and evaluate multilingual students' science knowledge and their language abilities in order to determine how to best help students build on scientific knowledge and amplify their language skills. Specific to scientific argumentation, eliciting student thinking can help educators guide students through the process of developing and strengthening their arguments. This project aims to help science teacher candidates learn how to do this through mixed-reality simulations of teaching and learning.
The goals of this project are (1) to identify the essential elements in teacher–student interactions that help elicit student thinking to improve scientific argumentation among secondary multilingual learners and (2) to explore the preliminary effects, acceptability, and feasibility of mixed-reality simulations as part of the training of pre-service science teachers. The essential elements in teacher-student interactions involve the sampling of students’ scientific knowledge and linguistic abilities to engage in formative responses within existing frameworks for eliciting the construction and critique of scientific arguments to address multilingual learners’ specific linguistic needs. The identification of these elements will inform the development of criteria for success that can be used to assess teacher candidates’ recorded simulations and provide them with feedback on their facilitation of scientific argumentation among multilingual learners. As part of this study, tasks and criteria for success for the facilitation of multilingual learners’ engagement in scientific argumentation will be developed. The study will use a convergent parallel mixed methods design to develop and test the inter-rater reliability of the tools used to rate the simulations and to provide feedback to teacher candidates. This research has the potential to advance knowledge and understanding of how to support science teaching quality that is also equitable in its inclusion of multilingual learners. Such studies have important implications across the field of science education, teacher education, and the teaching and learning of multilingual learners. Most important perhaps is its role in foundational collaborative work across disciplines (i.e., science and second language acquisition) that supports the enactment of social justice in authentic and complex environments.
The project is supported by NSF’s EDU Core Research Building Capacity in STEM Education Research (ECR: BCSER) program, which is designed to build investigators’ capacity to carry out high-quality STEM education research.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.