Emergent multilingual learners' use of multimodal discursive resources in science journals to communicate “doing” and “learning”

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Callie Price
Daniella Biffi
Molly H. Weinburgh
Kathy Horak Smith
Cecilia Silva
Monica Amylett
Antonia Domino


Sociocultural language learning theory and situated learning theory stress the importance of social interactions and context in both science and language learning. In addition, researchers have highlighted the important role that multimodal language plays in meaning-making and communication in science. The purpose of this study was to examine the multimodal discursive resources emergent multilingual learners (EMLs) used in their journals on the topic of erosion. Thus, we ask “in what ways do multimodal discursive resources differ as EMLs describe doing an investigation (practices) and learning (content) in response to a writing prompt (What I did-What I learned)?”. This research, grounded in an interpretive/constructivist paradigm, examined the journals of 18 EMLs who participated in a summer program where they engaged in the social context of scientific practice. Students used the What I Did/What I Learned (WID/WIL) writing prompt to describe the practices used in the classroom investigations and the knowledge resulting from these investigations. The WID/WIL journal entries were examined using template analysis coding. The template consisted of four major categories (writing, mathematical expressions, manual-technical operations, setting). Findings indicate that EMLs utilized writing and mathematical expressions to communicate their manual technical operations (practice) and knowledge (content) of erosion. They did not use visual representations as part of their multimodal resources. Implications for science teaching and the use of the WID/WIL as a writing prompt are included.

Article Details

Research / Empirical
Author Biographies

Callie Price, Texas Christian University

Graduate Student: Science Education

Daniella Biffi, Texas Christian University

Graduate Student: Science Education; TCU

Molly H. Weinburgh, Texas Christian University

College of Education

Professor and Andrews Chair of Mathematics & Science Education

Director, Andrews Institute of Mathematics & Science Education

Kathy Horak Smith, Tarleton State University

Professor; mathematics education; Tarleton State University

Cecilia Silva, Texas Christian University

Professor Emeritus; bilingual/ESL

Monica Amylett, Texas Christian University

Graduate students; science education

Antonia Domino, Texas Christian University

Graduate student; science education