PhD in Public Policy

Clara Jean Howard '20


Current position: Assistant Professor, Secondary Education at University of Maine Farmington

Position during PhD studies: EL Curriculum, Assessment and Professional Development Specialist, Portland Public Schools


Title: "Academic Languages isn't easy":English learners perceptions of learning in high school

Abstract: This study examined English Learners’ (ELs) perceptions of the instructional recommendations of the Academic Language Learning in Every Subject (ALLIES) Framework (O’Hare & Pritchard, 2017). Language is an integral part of classroom learning in all subject areas, and to succeed in school, students especially ELs, need opportunities to develop the specialized academic language that is associated with content learning (Bunch, 2013; Gebhard, 2019a; Short & Echevarria, 2016; Schleppegrell, 2015; Walqui & Bunch, 2018). Previous scholarship on instructional practices that are most effective for the development of academic language (AL) and the academic achievement of ELs has largely been driven by theory related to second language acquisition rather than by empirical evidence. This study explored the unique capacity of student voice to reveal first-hand experience of influential instruction in order to help focus what content teachers should know and do to more effectively instruct their linguistically diverse learners. Six ELs from varied language and cultural backgrounds were interviewed in their senior year of high school using Seidman’s three-interview protocol (Seidman, 2015). The ALLIES Framework was adapted to structure both the interview protocols as well as the data analysis. Their perceptions were largely congruent with the literature and one of several conclusions is that EL student voice is potentially a valuable source of professional learning for teachers.