Because my position at MSU focuses on instruction and administration, my research continues but primarily focuses on the work of training language teachers and their social and cognitive development. I have continued working with data from my dissertation research on identity, investment, and literacy in young learners of Arabic, including heritage and non-heritage learners. Other projects over the last several years have dealt with culture as a construct and intercultural competence, inductive approaches to grammar, critical languages, digital literacy, motivation, agency, and identity.
I have presented on these projects, individually and with colleagues and students, at national conferences including the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the National Council for Less-Commonly-Taught Languages (NCOLCTL), and the Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO). Dustin De Felice and I have also presented on priorities we emphasize in the MAFLT at the annual meeting of the Michigan World Language Association (MIWLA).
Students and alumni of the MAFLT program have also presented work they initiated in my courses at state, regional, and national conferences, including ACTFL, NCOLCTL, SCOLT, and NABE. In any given year I might have 30 to 50 students doing projects in regular courses that involve empirical data collection and analysis and several students working on Experiential Module projects (the capstone experience) that involve research, and I will continue to propose collaborative presentations and possibly publications with students.
Investigating Learning and Teaching
Future Engagement with Research
There are four specific areas in which I want to and fully intend to progress in the future, all of which involve methods common to ethnography and language socialization:
- Teacher inquiry and teacher cognition. Because I am engaging in so much mentoring work that hovers on the borders of formally-defined research, it makes sense to address the actual use of research methods among language teachers, both at the level of supporting their inquiry and at the “meta” level of analyzing the gaps between their questions and curiosity and the projects that they actually carry out. I am hoping to develop a special topics course in teacher inquiry soon that embeds research methods in a larger discussion of teacher development, action research, and contributions to the field of SLA that teachers can and should make.
- Heritage learners of critical languages. Further study of identity and investment in heritage and non-heritage learners of critical languages. This work can draw on data that I have from young learners and may complement it with newer data from university-aged learners and their speech communities. I also have a 3-day workshop for teachers of heritage learners that can be given again and might lead to collaboration with interested teachers. Also see Heritage Language Learners on this site.
- Effective online instruction. Investigation of learning as participation and identity (Wenger, 1998) in distance-based online programs, through the lenses of teacher presence and social presence (Rourke, et al., 2001) as well as newer constructs including investment and positioning that can inform better understanding as well as better outcomes for learners. I have added resources on this topic to this site under Instructional Technology, but my primary digital space for discussing online learning is on a separate WordPress site at Distance Learning Up Close and #distancelearningupclose on Twitter.
- Pedagogy of intercultural competence. The work above would rely on data that I already have or could easily obtain through my work as a teacher educator. Given the time and resources, the work that would involve a larger scale of planning, collaboration, and intervention would be teacher cognition studies of the ways that FL teachers understand intercultural competence and teach it in their classrooms, and the discrepancies between the two as well as change over time. The new Can-Do Statements for Intercultural Competence (NCSSFL-ACTFL, 2017) have defined ICC more effectively and brought it to the forefront, but the resulting classroom practices and learner outcomes have not been extensively studied yet. Most of the existing work on ICC has dealt with English as the target language or relied on teacher accounts with limited use of observational data or student voices.
My graduate students regularly complete large capstone projects under my supervision. Those Experiential Modules include many forms of teacher inquiry, including action research and ethnographic research as well as program evaluation and needs analysis for curriculum design. The Student Projects page [UNDER CONSTRUCTION] lists Experiential Modules that I have mentored over the last few years and highlights projects that students and I have presented at conferences around the country. I list several examples in this post on teacher inquiry. Also see the MAFLT Showcase at maflt.cal.msu.edu/showcase.
As components of graduate courses and in other forums, I train language educators in methods of data collection and analysis and in the skills of writing about research. The materials on the Research Methods page include tutorials and links to reference materials.