April 12: SOE colloquium

Connecticut researchers to discuss writing development of bilingual students


3:45 p.m., April 1, 2016--The University of Delaware School of Education’s spring colloquium series will continue on Tuesday afternoon, April 12, with a presentation by Elizabeth R. Howard, associate professor of bilingual education, and Graham G. Riefenbark, doctoral student, both from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education. 

Their presentation, “The Effects of Home Language Use on English and Spanish Writing Growth in the Domains of Usage, Spelling, and Punctuation,” will discuss the English and Spanish writing development of bilingual students in two-way immersion programs. 

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The presentation will review a study in which 185 elementary school students were administered English and Spanish basic writing assessments once a year over four years, from second through fifth grades. This research revealed that students grew significantly in the areas of usage, spelling and punctuation in both languages, but the rate of growth slowed over time. 

In addition, the increased use of a language at home was associated with higher writing ability in the home language in fifth grade. Students with higher levels of exposure to Spanish at home also demonstrated a faster growth rate in their English writing development than those who spoke more English at home. However, the effect of the home language in Spanish writing development was much more varied.  

The presentation will begin at 1 p.m. in Room 207 of the Willard Hall Education Building. A discussion and question-and-answer period will follow at 2 p.m. 

Students, faculty, and community members with interests in English, Spanish, teaching English as a second language, composition, literacy and education are encouraged to attend. This event is free, and no advance registration or RSVP is required. 

For more information about the colloquium series and upcoming speakers, visit the School of Education colloquium series webpage

About the speakers

Elizabeth R. Howard is an associate professor of bilingual education in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches graduate courses on linguistic and cultural diversity and conducts research on dual language education, biliteracy development, and the teacher preparation for work with multilingual learners. 

She is a co-investigator of a federally funded research project exploring writing instruction and outcomes among English language learners and has served as principal investigator on large-scale studies of biliteracy development and dual language education. 

Her books include Realizing the Vision of Two-Way Immersion: Fostering Effective Programs and Classrooms and Preparing Classroom Teachers to Succeed with Second Language Learners: Lessons from a Faculty Learning Community

Graham G. Riefenbark is a doctoral student in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut and a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellow. His methodological interests include cross-sectional and longitudinal latent variable modeling, modern missing data estimation procedures, and invariance testing.

He has also served as lead analyst on several projects funded by the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Institutes of Health. He is currently teaching a graduate level course on quantitative programming and has delivered guest lectures and a workshop on this topic. 

Article by Jessica Henderson

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