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ACTFL Research Priorities Phase III Research Projects

CONTACT: Marty Abbott

To be conducted during academic year 2014-2015

Alexandria, VA – The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is pleased to announce Phase III of its ongoing Research Priorities Project. The purpose of Phase III of the ACTFL Research Priorities Project is to support empirical research projects or dissertation studies on five priority areas that are currently critical to improving foreign language education:

  • Research Priority Area #1: Integration of Language, Culture, and Content
  • Research Priority Area #2: Foreign Language Teacher Development
  • Research Priority Area #3: Classroom Discourse
  • Research Priority Area #4: High-Performing Language Programs
  • Research Priority Area #5: Language Use in the Community

Dr. Corinne Petra Crane (University of Texas at Austin)
Research Priority Area #1
Project Title: Structured Reflection for Transformative Learning: A Foreign Language Curricular Perspective

This study will examine the role of reflection used by students of German across language levels at a large state university to deepen their evolving knowledge of the target cultures and themselves. Reflections revolve around central course themes: students' experiences learning German as a foreign language (first year); their evolving understandings of German culture (second year); and their developing understanding of German grammar (third year).
Research Questions:
1. Are students experiencing/approaching transformative learning moments in their language classes?
2. What do their reflections reveal about learning and perspective-shifting at different instructional levels?
3. What is the value of regular reflection for language learners at different instructional levels?

Dr. José David Herazo (Universidad de Córdoba, Montería, Colombia)
Dr. Kristin J. Davin (Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL)
Research Priority Area #3
Project Title: Transforming Classroom Discourse Through Dynamic Assessment (DA)

This study will investigate the potential of DA to transform teacher candidates' classroom discourse practices through the minimization of IRE (initiation-response-evaluation) interactions and maximization of more meaningful discourse patterns.
Research Questions:
1. In what ways does classroom discourse change as L2 teacher candidates (TCs) integrate DA into their interactions with learners?
2. What challenges do TCs encounter in their attempts to adopt DA discourse practices?

Olesya V. Kisselev (Ph.D. student in Applied Linguistics, The Pennsylvania State University)
Research Priority Area #1
Project Title: Investigating Writing Development in a Content and Language Integrated Program for Advanced Study of Russian as a Foreign Language

The study will investigate the writing development of students in an innovative content and language integrated (CBI) program designed by the  Russian Flagship Center (RFC) at Portland State University. RFC enrolls "mainstream" foreign language learners and heritage learners of Russian into the same advanced-level content-based courses.
Research Questions:
1 What are the particular syntactic features employed by the learners of Russian at different developmental levels?
2. Are there significant differences in the use of these syntactic features between the foreign language and heritage language writers of Russian?
3. How does the performance of these groups compare to the writing of proficient writers of Russian and L2 writers in traditional programs, as established in the available research literature?

Dr. Chan Lü (Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA)
Research Priority Area #1
Project Title: Depth of Vocabulary Knowledge, Reading Comprehension, and Content Knowledge in a Chinese Immersion Program

This study will examine the relationship between depth of vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension by grade 3 students enrolled in a Chinese immersion program. It is anticipated that the results of the study will contribute to our understanding of how students in immersion programs learn to read for understanding and how Chinese immersion teachers teach content vocabulary.
Research Questions:
1. What is the relationship between vocabulary depth and reading comprehension in Chinese across an academic year?
2. Can students with deeper vocabulary knowledge in Chinese acquire new knowledge via reading?
3. In general, how do Chinese immersion teachers approach vocabulary instruction in their classrooms?

Dr. Jason P. Martel (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Monterey, CA)
Research Priority Area #1
Project Title: Exploring Content-Based Instruction at the Monterey Institute of International Studies

This study is geared toward deeply understanding teachers' sense-making and implementation of content-based instruction (CBI) in a particular foreign language context in which it is widely practiced: the Language Studies Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Using a Communities of Practice framework (Wenger, 1998), the study will explore matters of identity construction.
Research Questions:
1. What sense does an invested community of foreign language professionals make of CBI?
2. In which ways do these professionals implement CBI in their planning, instruction, and assessment?
3. How do these professionals' identities in regards to CBI shift throughout the process?

Dr. Veronica G. Sardegna (University of Pittsburgh)
Research Priority Area #2
Project Title: Pre-Service Foreign Language Teachers' Intercultural Competence Development

This study will explore the learning processes and outcomes of a six-week-long telecollaborative project involving two groups of pre-service foreign language teachers who were asked to exchange their views on cultural issues online. The project seeks to contribute to our understanding of the role played by online intercultural communities of practice in helping to develop foreign language pre-service teachers' intercultural competence.
Research Questions:
1. To what extent do cross-cultural interactions and reflective learning practices facilitate the development of pre-service foreign language teachers' understanding of other cultures and their own in the context of a telecollaborative project?
2. What aspects of the telecollaboration and the instructional approach facilitate and/or hinder intercultural exchanges within a community of practice of pre-service foreign language teachers?
3. To what extent do pre-service foreign language teachers believe that the telecollaborative project modeled practices that they could eventually adopt for their language classrooms?

Dr. Joseph M. Terantino (Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA)
Research Priority Area #2
Project Title: Examining the Communities of Practice Established Through INFORM: An Exploratory Case Study

This study will examine the communities of practice established through the Instructional Field Observation Rounds Model (INFORM), which is planned and implemented as a school-university partnership for conducting field experiences in university methods courses. Within our foreign language education program, this type of community of practice has evolved into a unique form of mentoring and become a model approach for conducting field observations.
Research Questions:
1. What is the nature of the community of practice established through INFORM?
2. How do teacher candidates and in-service teachers perceive the effectiveness of field observations conducted through INFORM?
3. How do the teacher candidates and in-service teachers perceive the collaborative processes that take place during INFORM?

Co-Directors of the ACTFL Research Priorities Project are Dr. Eileen W. Glisan, Indiana University of PA, and Dr. Richard Donato, University of Pittsburgh.

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is the national association for language education professionals from all levels of instruction and representing all languages. With more than 12,300 active members, ACTFL provides innovative professional development opportunities, acclaimed training and certification programs, and widely cited books, publications, scholarly journals, research studies and language education resources, including Foreign Language Annals and The Language Educator magazine. As part of its mission and vision, the organization provides guidance to the profession and to the general public regarding issues, policies, and best practices related to the teaching and learning of languages and cultures. ACTFL is a leading national voice among language educators and administrators and is guided by a responsibility to set standards and expectations that will result in high quality language programs.

Monday, December 1, 2014