Supportive Classroom Contexts for Upper Elementary English Language Learners

Banse, Holland, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Palacios, Natalia, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The dissertation uses mixed methods to quantitatively identify and qualitatively describe characteristics of upper elementary classrooms that support Latino ELLs’ academic achievement. The first manuscript used multiple regression analyses with students nested in classrooms to identify highly caring, well-managed classrooms as supportive of Latino ELLs’ English Language Arts achievement, but not their math achievement. In the following two papers, I qualitatively examined these findings. Employing a multiple case study approach, I first compared how teachers demonstrated care during English Language Arts instruction in the following types of fourth and fifth grade classrooms: (1) high-gains, with ELLs; (2) high-gains, with no ELLs; and (3) low-gains, with ELLs. Overall, teachers showed support by offering both general and specific praise to their students. However, only the high-gains, ELL teachers also worked to establish relationships with their students and explicitly discussed the relevance of schoolwork for students’ lives. Next, I asked an exploratory question about the types of instructional practices and demonstrations of care that are unique to high-achieving, majority-Latino fourth and fifth grade classrooms with many ELLs during math instruction. Using the same case study approach, I found that high-gains teachers of ELLs used gestures, visuals, and physical representations accurately and purposefully; offered praise; elaborated student responses; checked all students’ understanding; and integrated emotional and instructional support while checking understanding. These practices and displays of supportiveness were less common amongst the remaining teachers. In each paper, I conclude with implications for professional development and measuring classroom quality.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
English language learners, upper elementary, mathematics, English language arts , instructional practices, socio-emotional practices, Measures of Effective Teaching Dataset, Latino students
Sponsoring Agency:
Institute of Education SciencesAmerican Educational Research Association-MET Committee
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