The goal of the project is to bring together research about English-language learners with the use of dynamic representational technology for middle school quantitative reasoning. Dynamic representation technology allows learners to work with multiple representations of a problem simultaneously. These representations include, for example, graphs of an equation, a table of values and a simulation of the real-world phenomenon to understand concepts such as linear functions and rates of change that support algebra. This project will focus on English-language learners who will benefit from multiple representations in order to increase their participation in mathematics practices. English-language learners are a quickly growing segment of the student population in the United States. The EHR Core Research program emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in the field. Investments are made in critical areas that are essential, broad and enduring: STEM learning and STEM learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development.
The design-based research study includes seventh grade students in two linguistically diverse regions. The project will investigate how 7th-grade students with different levels of English-language proficiency “reason abstractly and quantitatively,” as they engage with dynamic representation technology-based and paper-based activities that address the content area of linear functions. In phase II, they will conduct a design-based research study to develop adaptations of materials using the dynamic representation technology. The project uses a comparison study of the technology-based activities and comparable paper-based activities to analyze participation of English-language learners in mathematics practices. The research plan includes three phases. In phase one, the project will analyze the participation and discussion of small groups as they work with the tasks to understand participation mathematical reasoning. In phase two, design-based research will be used to develop and refine the dynamic representation technology software and activities using data from activity sessions with students of varying English proficiency. In phase three, the project will compare the effect of the dynamic representation technology activities compared with paper-based activities on students with or without English-language proficiency.