Bilingualtek: An Integrated Science-Language Approach for Latinx Preschoolers

This project seeks to foster the science achievement of Latinx preschoolers by confronting current barriers that impact their STEM education through an integrated science-language instructional approach for preschool classrooms. The project will use everyday science experiences to engage Latinx preschoolers in learning the practices of scientists, including the practices of obtaining information and using language to communicate scientific findings.

Full Description: 

Early childhood education currently faces challenges related to effective science instruction practices that meet the learning needs of culturally and linguistically diverse children, such as Latinx dual language learners (DLL). This project seeks to foster the science achievement of Latinx preschoolers by confronting current barriers that impact their STEM education through an integrated science-language instructional approach for preschool classrooms. The project will use everyday science experiences to engage Latinx preschoolers in learning the practices of scientists, including the practices of obtaining information and using language to communicate scientific findings. These aims will be accomplished by combining engaging science experiences delivered via e-books, and multimedia supports for science and dual-language learning. Consistent with the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS), the project offers a transformative model of early childhood science and language education that supports kindergarten readiness at a national level and addresses the vital need for educational resources that build on and enhance the strengths of underserved communities.

The long-term goal of this project is to foster the science achievement of Latinx preschoolers by addressing current challenges impacting their STEM education. These challenges include; limited early science education instruction for teachers, minimal incorporation of NGSS science principles in early science learning for preschoolers, and increasing numbers of Latinx DLLs entering preschools experiencing a shortage of bilingual early childhood teachers. The project addresses these challenges by leveraging recent research with preschool Latinx DLLs across several disciplines into a media-supported integrated science-language instructional approach. These instructional practices provide an NGSS-aligned model for preschool-age science education at the national level, support kindergarten readiness, and directly address the need for educational resources that build on the strengths that diverse children bring to their learning experience. Supporting monolingual teachers’ use of multimedia dual-language science materials will also address preschool teacher professional learning related to science instruction while promoting the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM education at an early age. The science-language instructional practices will be developed by bringing together preschool teachers and Latinx families in an iterative co-design process to develop instructional content and supports to facilitate science and language learning by Latinx DLLs. The project will be implemented in 28 classrooms to examine its usability, feasibility, and preliminary efficacy, including child outcomes (science talk, science knowledge, and language skills) through a rigorous quasi-experimental field study. The treatment and control groups will each include 42 children and 14 teachers. The project will produce 1) an integrated science and language instructional approach and resource materials relevant to Latinx children’s living experiences, 2) proof of concept of the project’s feasibility; and 3) initial findings on the impact of the project on children’s science and language learning outcomes.

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