Melina Pinales has been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSFGRFP) in support of her doctoral studies. GRFP fellowships are awarded for three years to outstanding graduate students who have demonstrated the potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality and diversity of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise.
Ms. Pinales is a second year PhD in Education student specializing in Educational Policy and Social Context (EPSC). She will be using her NSF grant to research the role of dual language classroom instruction on the science and mathematics achievement of Latinx elementary school students.
Issues of language use in classrooms for instructing dual language learners who come from non-English speaking home backgrounds have been a point of discussion and debate among researchers, school practitioners, and parents across the U.S. Thus, an understanding of the relationship between language use in the classroom, whether it be for instructional purposes or as a point of connection to students’ home environments, is necessary to advance the research literature on the appropriate instructional approaches for such students. Using a nationally representative dataset, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class of 2011 (ECLS-K:2011), the proposed study will analyze the effects of Spanish use by teachers in elementary school classrooms on the 1st-5th grade science and mathematics achievement of Latinx students. Moreover, this study will investigate the different ways teachers report using Spanish in their classroom (e.g., for academic instruction, to converse with students, and/or for instructional support), and how combinations of these language interactions relate to later performance.
Ms. Pinales' research interests include early childhood, educational inequalities, achievement gaps, and educational policies. She is advised by Professor George Farkas and Assistant Professor Jade Jenkins.