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Eric.ed.gov – Learning in Linguistically Diverse Middle School Classrooms: The Role of the Classroom Peer Network

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The literature suggests there is much to be gained from exploring the role of the peer network in linguistically diverse “mainstream” middle school classrooms (i.e., classrooms that include English language learners alongside fluent English-speakers). The present study uses social network analysis to examine whether between-classroom and between-student variation in cross-language-status integration in the classroom peer network may contribute to between-classroom and between-student differences in learning. Data from a larger mixed-methods study at a linguistically diverse middle school in the southeastern United States are analyzed to test two hypotheses: (1) Classrooms with more linguistically integrated peer networks (i.e., those in which the network of friendships in the classroom is less segregated by ELL status) will show greater growth in classroom mean standardized test scores across the school year; and (2) ELL students that are better integrated in the classroom network (i.e., having a larger proportion of friendships with non-ELL classmates) will show greater growth in standardized test scores across the school year. Longitudinal data were collected from 24 “mainstream” middle school classrooms (fourteen 6th grade, five 7th grade classrooms, and five 8th grade classrooms) across two middle schools in the southeastern United States. Data were collected from two cohorts of students at the beginning and end of the school year, during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 academic years. Data were collected from 304 students (50% female), of which 82 were classified by their school district as “English language learners”. Online demographic and social network surveys were administered to two cohorts of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students during their Math or English Language Arts class in the Fall (October) of the academic year. In addition, participating students’ standardized test scores from the current and previous year were collected from the school district at the end of the school year. Preliminary analyses of the data support the authors’ hypotheses about the importance of considering peer network integration in relation to academic outcomes within linguistically diverse classrooms. Additional analyses to be completed in Fall 2015 will explore additional control variables, such as classroom features (e.g., class size) and teacher characteristics (e.g., years of teaching experience). Tables and figures are appended.

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som adjunkt hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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