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ACTFL Research Priorities Projects - Phase II

To be conducted during academic year 2013-2014

Dr. Kristin Davin (Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL)
Dr. Francis Troyan (Ohio State University)
Research Priority Area #5
Project: Implementation of High-Leverage Teaching Practices by FL Teacher Candidates

Research Questions:
1. To what extent can FL teacher candidates implement high-leverage teaching practices (HLTPs) studied within their methods courses during their field experience?
2. What successes and challenges are reported by candidates in the implementation of the HLTPs?
Researchers will examine the implementation of three HLTPs by teacher candidates from a large public university and a smaller private university, using a multiple case study analysis. This project will contribute to the field's understanding of teacher candidates' developmental trajectory regarding the implementation of HLTPs as well as to the refining of materials (i.e., HLTP rubrics) for use in FL teacher preparation, and will help to further define the research agenda for HLTPs in FL teacher preparation.

Dr. Frank B. Brooks (Indiana University of PA)
Dr. Mark Darhower (North Carolina State University)
Research Priority Area #1
Project: Attainment of the Oral Proficiency Standard: Successful FL Teacher Preparation Programs

Research Question:
1. How do previously identified successful FL teacher preparation programs work "to create a cultural of oral proficiency" (Huhn, 2012, p. S173) between and among their teacher candidates such that there are a high percentage of them who reach or exceed the oral proficiency standard (e.g., Advanced Low on the ACTFL proficiency scale as required by ACTFL/NCATE)?
Researchers will visit and collect data (class observations; interviews with faculty, administrators, candidates, recent graduates) from the top three FL teacher preparation programs that produce the highest number of candidates who achieve the proficiency standard. This project is expected to yield an understanding of what these outstanding programs do to accomplish their success, which will result in specific recommendations for other programs desiring to reach a similar goal with their FL teacher candidates.

Dr. Fengning Du (Defense Language Institute) & Ms. Qi Wang (University of San Francisco)
Research Priority Area #4
Project: Informal Mentoring of New Teachers: Characteristics, Processes, Support

Research Questions:
1. What is the process of informal mentoring as experienced by mentees?
2. What are the characteristics of effective informal mentoring as perceived by mentees?
3. How can administrators provide support for informal mentoring?
Researchers will use data from the informal mentoring of  two new instructors at the Defense Language Institute to generate a "middle-range" theory of new teachers' experiences regarding informal mentoring. Findings from this study will provide insights on the processes of providing technical and emotional support to new teachers, which will result in implications on how to align organizational structure and culture in supporting informal mentoring.

Dr. Erin Kearney (University at Buffalo, NY)
Research Priority Area #5
Project: Connecting High-Level Teaching Practices to Student Learning Outcomes

Research Questions:
1. What practices are observable in the discourse of several novice foreign language teachers' classrooms, which already show evidence of overall positive learning outcomes for students?
2. What particular learning outcomes are supported by the constellation of practices present in each teacher's classroom?
3. How are practices deployed in the flow of classroom discourse and achieved interactionally?
The researcher will observe and analyze the practices of novice teachers at the middle and high school level whose teaching has been identified as positively impacting student learning outcomes. The project aims to link observable instructional practices with a range of learning outcomes and seeks to contribute empirically-grounded claims about high-level teaching practices (HLTPs) to the field of foreign language education.

Dr. Juyoung Song (Murray State University, Murray, KY)
Other team members: Enju Na (New York University); Jeyseon Lee (University of California at San Diego); Hakyoon Lee (Emory University, Atlanta, GA); Dukhyun Nam (Pusan National University, South Korea)
Research Priority Area # 3
Project: The Relationship Between Writing Practices Within the Classroom and in TL Communities: A Sociolinguistic Study

Research Questions:
1. How do writing activities in a Korean language classroom affect learners' community-based writing practices outside the classroom?
2. How do learners' community-based writing practices differ between heritage, foreign, and second language learners of Korean?
3. How do these writing practices affect learners' development of writing proficiency and membership in target-language communities?
Researchers will conduct a case study in two Korean language classes at a U.S. university, focusing on students' writing practices in and out of the classroom and the development of writing proficiency. By illuminating the relationship between in-class and community-based writing activities, this projects brings to the fore the FL learners' attitudes, motivation, and investment in their development of writing proficiency and membership in the TL community. Results will have pedagogical implications for the design of FL curriculum and instruction that seeks to focus on use of language in TL communities.

Dr. Heather J. Hendry (University of Pittsburgh, PA)
Research Priority Area #4
Project: Content-Based Instruction in the Elementary School: Challenges and Connections to Student Performance

Research Questions:
1. What challenges do FLES teachers confront when implementing content-based instruction (CBI)?
2. What supports assist FLES teachers with their implementation of CBI?
3. How do students in a content-based FLES program perform over time?
The researcher will work with two K-6 Spanish teachers in a K-6 charter school located in an urban school district to provide feedback on the implementation of CBI. The analysis of data (teacher talk, classroom observations, teacher perceptions, and student performance) will be used to identify the challenges teachers confront when implementing CBI and to connect CBI implementation with student performance over time.

Dr. Susan A. Hildebrandt (Illinois State University)
Dr. Pete Swanson (Georgia State University)
Research Priority Area #1
Project: Researching the edTPA in  World Language Teacher Preparation Programs in Light of Existing Measurements of Student Teaching Performance

Research Questions:
1. What similarities exist between already existing measures of language teacher effectiveness and the edTPA?
2. What is the relationship between existing measurements of student teaching performance and edTPA scores?
Research will take place in two of the larger world language teacher preparation programs in the U.S., Illinois State University and Georgia State University, where data from teacher candidates edTPA scores, student teaching grades and demographic data, university supervisor notes, and state-mandated licensure tests will be analyzed. The project seeks to reveal the impact of edTPA (a national performance of novices' readiness to teach, developed by Stanford University in collaboration with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education)  on teacher preparation programs and the relationship of edTPA scores and teacher candidate performance.

Dr. Michelle Bettencourt (University of North  Carolina at Asheville)
Research Priority Area #3
Project: Researching the Impact of Service Learning on Learning Outcomes and Beyond

Research Questions:
1. How does service learning support learning outcomes for intermediate-high level foreign language students of Spanish at a small, public Liberal Arts university?
2. How does service learning impact student learning beyond achievement of specific learning outcomes?
3. How does service learning impact 10 different community partners working with a university in terms of their organization, employees, volunteers, recipients of the service, and their relationship with the university?
This project will focus on a 300-level university Spanish course that is designated as a service-learning course. Through the analysis of data from focus groups, surveys, and personal journals, researchers will explore the impact of service learning on two areas that have yet to be fully explored in the research: student learning and community partners. Results from the project are expected to contribute to our understanding of the role that service learning stands to play in connecting students to TL communities and having a positive impact on their learning.


ACTFL 2013: Project researchers for Phase II of Research Priorities will be announced at the Research Plenary.
ACTFL 2014: Research Plenary will focus on selected projects from Phase II. Follow-up sessions will be held at which time researchers/research teams will present their projects and findings.