The Social Context of School Learning
Whereas the previous chapter reviewed cognitive aspects of literacy and content learning, this chapter examines research related to a variety of social factors involved in school learning. It is clear that children may arrive at school ready to learn in a number of different ways. One way is to have high levels of language, emergent literacy, and world knowledge acquired at home or in preschool. Equally important, though, is readiness in the emotional, social, and motivational realms: the ability to adapt to the new constraints of the classroom, the social skills that are needed to participate effectively in classroom discourse, and the self-esteem and sense of agency required to work hard and learn intentionally. School learning is a social as well as a cognitive process, one influenced by the relationships between student and teacher and among students. Furthermore, what children learn at school is not exclusively academic content; schools are designed to make children productive citizens who are respectful of the diversity of their society. While there has been a great deal of research on the social and motivational determinants of school success for mainstream children, attention to these matters with regard to language-minority children has focused more on issues of mismatch between the social rules these children bring from home and those that obtain in the classroom. In this chapter, we identify some of the salient themes in research on social factors as related to academic achievement for language-minority children.
State Of Knowledge
This section reviews the findings of research on social factors in school learning in five areas: the social nature of knowledge acquisition, the issue of
differential treatment of ethnic minority students, cultural differences in the motivation to achieve, children's social and group relationships, and parental involvement in children's school learning
The Social Nature of Knowledge Acquisition
Were we to focus only on issues examined in the previous chapter, such as the nature of understanding across subject matter, the various forms of knowledge learners possess, and the way prior knowledge influences the acquisition of new knowledge, we would be ignoring a vital aspect of school learning: the fact that most learning occurs in a social context in which individual actions and understandings are negotiated by the members of a group. There are two theoretical perspectives on the locus of this negotiation. The individual perspective is based on the idea of constructivismthat individuals actively construct meanings from interaction with the world around them, an idea traced back to Piaget's (1970) theories of cognitive development (see Chapter 3). In contrast, the social perspective is based on sociocultural theories of learning that emphasize the role of social interaction with more knowledgeable others (Vygotsky, 1978) and activity-oriented work in a social setting (Leont'ev, 1981). While there has been a tradition of debate over the relative accuracy of these perspectives in depicting learning processes, recent work suggests it may be more profitable to determine when and how the two perspectives might work together to describe student learning (Bereiter, 1994; Cobb, 1994).
We focus here not on this debate, but on the context of negotiation as related to the social nature of learning. We propose that in a classroom learning situation, negotiation occurs within at least two domains: the rules for how to talk in the classroom and the construction of actual content knowledge through talk. It is from the interpretation of these negotiations that students construct their own knowledge and understanding. However, it is typically the teacher who, either implicitly or explicitly, initiates negotiation across these dimensions.
Negotiating How to Talk
The process of negotiating the way classroom participants will talk about subject matter is of concern for researchers from a sociocultural perspective because participation in situated cultures of practice is assumed to be an important influence on an individual's academic performance. Thus, students who understand that a teacher's question about a text requests an explanation for their interpretation rather than the literal interpretation itself will participate more effectively in that classroom's practice. Research on learning outside the classroom has demonstrated the extent to which context influences the nature of such learning for any given individual (Brown et al., 1989; Carraher et al., 1985; Lave et al., 1984; Resnick, 1987; Scribner, 1984). Classroom participants similarly
negotiate how they will talk about the subject matter at hand (Wertsch, 1979, 1990; Vygotsky, 1978; Cobb et al., 1993; Moll and Whitmore, 1993; Lampert, 1990). To date, these issues have not been addressed systematically in the study of student learning across subject matter domains. However, they have obvious implications for second-language education, in part because negotiating these matters is much more difficult in a second language and in part because the negotiated rules are likely to be heavily influenced by culture.
Ideally, conclusions about cultural mismatch in the negotiation of talk are based on observations of children both at home and at school. One such study was conducted by Philips (1983) in the homes and classrooms of Native American students. Using an ethnographic approach to the study of language-use practices among Warm Springs Indian children, Philips identified and described the different participant structures to which the children had access in home, community, and school settings. She found that the children's verbal participation was much greater in classrooms whose participant structures were similar to those used routinely in their homes and community. Similarly, in her ethnographic study of how language is learned by African American and white children in the rural south, Heath (1983) showed that certain language-use patterns characteristic of the African American community differed from those used by white teachersboth in their homes and in their classrooms to structure talkin the schools the African American children attended.
Both Gee (1988a, 1988b) and Michaels (1991) have focused on the social meaning of children's own discourse forms, both as effective ways of expressing their own intentions and as forms that lead to miscommunication with and negative reactions from teachers. Michaels analyzed the sharing-time turns of an African-American child, identifying the culturally specific pattern of story telling she used and the ways it violated the rules for sharing time imposed by the teacher (see also Gee, 1985, 1990). The mismatches identified by Gee and Michaels make access to full participation in educational interactions more difficult for the speakers of the less-valued discourse forms.
Other studies leading to conclusions about cultural mismatch have been conducted exclusively in classroom settings; these are of the type Cazden (1986:446) identifies as the ''culturally different case," that is, comparison with an assumed mainstream pattern of interaction. For example, Au and Mason (1981) focus their comparisons on the discourse of two teachersone who had little experience with Polynesian children and one who had a long history of working with them. The latter teacher's reading lessons were characterized by discourse patterns that resembled those identified in studies of native Hawaiian teachers (Au, 1980) and children (Boggs, 1985). This teacher's students engaged in the kinds of collaborative and overlapping talk that are characteristic of talk story, a native Hawaiian joint story-telling event. The students taught by this teacher performed better on several verbal measures related to academic engagement and reading ability (amount of academically engaged time, number of reading-related
and correct responses to teachers' questions, and number of idea units and logical inferences) than the students of the other teacher. Gutierrez et al. (1995) demonstrate how particular classroom communities evolve, and illustrate how the schooling practices of an urban school serve to marginalize rather than accommodate the linguistic, social, and cultural capital of its diverse student population.
Other studies focusing on enactments of sociocultural pedagogy in schools and classrooms have investigated efforts to incorporate into classrooms features of learning and talking that are characteristic of the homes and communities of English-language learners. Perhaps the most well-known such effort to make classroom instruction culturally responsive is the Kamehameha Early Education Program (Au and Mason, 1981), which incorporated the talk story format discussed above into literacy instruction, with positive results.
In addition to negotiation of the rules for classroom talk, social practices for talking about a particular subject matter are negotiated by the participants, who thus are able to discuss the subject in a routine, predictable way. For example, studies have demonstrated that students' text comprehension is improved when the classroom participants, both teachers and students, take an active role in constructing their understanding of the text through the techniques of questioning the author (Beck et al., in press) and reciprocal teaching (Palincsar and Brown, 1984; Palincsar et al., 1993). Expert explanations have been found to facilitate student learning in history and mathematics for students of both low and high ability (Leinhardt, 1993). To participate in an explanation, students must understand the goals of the explanation and their role in attaining those goals. Students have the opportunity to learn the subject matter content through negotiations about that content during classroom discourse.
Using the classroom as a social arena for the public examination of ideas accomplishes three important things: (1) students gradually gain competence in using terminology and in connecting actions and concepts within a discipline; (2) in the course of dialogue, students naturally build on or refute old ideas as these are merged with new knowledge; and (3) actions of discussion, proof, and explanation are merged with networks of concepts and principles that are part of a particular subject matter. The examination of classroom discourse has informed research in primary-language content learning (see Chapter 3) by focusing on how social interaction influences the nature of learning by classroom students.
A recent volume of Linguistics and Education (6:1, 1994) focuses on the efforts of researchers, most of whom are participants in the Santa Barbara Classroom Discourse Group, working in classrooms of Spanish/English bilingual students in the elementary and middle grades. As the editors state in their introduction to the volume, these studies contribute to our understanding of "the ordinary
discursive and social practices in an everyday settingclassrooms and how these practices contribute to the construction of knowledge in classrooms" (p. 234). A central notion underlying these studies is that classroom discourse is both the process by which knowledge is constructed and the source of specific content, as well as the content of students' knowledge production. Implicit in each study is the view of a dialectical process in which participants' interactions both shape and are shaped by a range of contextual forces. It is this notion of dialectic and the way it contributes to the construction of knowledge that is implicit in the situated view of learning and the learner set forth in these studies.
Many studies that focus on teaching and learning literacy in classrooms include an examination of the issues associated with a particular pedagogical perspective or practice. Several of these studies have helped extend our understanding of the conditions that have led to variations in the way a particular approach is applied. For example, in her ethnographic study of journal sharing in nine different bilingual classrooms, Gutierrez (1992, 1994) found that teachers shared one of three "scripts" or pedagogical views of writing. Based on Gutierrez's 1992 descriptions, only one of these scripts provided enriched contexts for literacy learning in line with the tenets of sociocultural theory outlined above, that is, "contexts that give students both assistance and the occasions to use and write elaborated and meaningful discourse" (p. 259).
A number of researchers have focused on a discussion format known as instructional conversation that is grounded in the Vygotskian notions of assisted performance (e.g., Goldenberg and Gallimore, 1991; Rueda et al., 1992; Saunders et al., 1992; Patthey-Chavez and Goldenberg, 1995), as used in classrooms serving language-minority students. Instructional conversation contrasts markedly with the traditional teacher-fronted and skills-based approaches to instructional discourse most often available to language-minority students. Studies of this approach have shown that it is characterized by a thematic focus, teachers' efforts to build upon students' previous verbal contributions and experiences, and direct teaching. Although the use of this approach in classroom settings has not been linked to formal assessment of student learning, evidence of learning may be gleaned from an examination of the instructional conversations themselves. For example, as teachers become more proficient with the format, student talk increases, as measured by the percentage of total turns they take and the mean turn length (Patthey-Chavez and Goldenberg, 1995; Dalton and Sison, 1995).
Similarly, research by Warren and Rosebery in two bilingual science classrooms has focused on the nature of the scientific discourse used by students and teachers and the extent to which students appropriate scientific ways of knowing and reasoning. This research has tended to be quite detailed, focusing on a specific device or pattern. For example, in a recent article, Warren and Rosebery (1995) examine the role of argumentation in one of the classrooms. As they state in their introduction to this work, the intent of the study is to further articulate sociocultural theory on how science can be learned in classroom settings, using
Bakhtin's notion of dialogism as a filter for understanding this discourse sequence.1 (From a Bakhtinian perspective, utterances within a social context are imbued with multiple meanings and subject to evaluation, revision, and refinement.) In their analysis of argumentation in a bilingual Haitian Creole science class, Warren and Rosebery (1995) focus on students' disagreements over scientific claims, how these disagreement sequences shape the students' scientific understanding, and more specifically what it means for a claim to be accountable to evidence. This interpretive approach to the analysis of a single discussion yields insights into how norms of scientific practice, as well as elements of scientific thinking, can be jointly constructed by students engaged in meaningful acts of inquiry.
What distinguishes Warren and Rosebery's research from many other interpretive studies is the attention they pay to student learning (Rosebery et al., 1992). During interviews conducted in September and June, students were asked to think aloud about how they would research and explain two scientific dilemmas. The researchers' quantitative analyses revealed that the students had increased their appropriate uses of content knowledge and hypothesis statements by the time of the June interviews. Their qualitative analyses showed that the students were better able to reason in terms of larger explanatory frameworks by June. Students who had solved problems with simplistic, unexplained conjectures in September were using their scientific understandings to generate hypotheses and experiments by the end of the school year.
The work of Moll and his colleagues (Moll et al., 1992) at the University of Arizona represents an important and all-too-rare collaboration between researchers and teachers aimed at utilizing community-based knowledge in classroom settings. Drawing on the principle that "the students' community represents a resource of enormous importance for educational change and improvement," teachers and researchers involved in his work have interviewed parents and other community members to identify the information and skills or "funds of knowledge" that are available to Mexicano households through an elaborate set of social networks that connects each household to other households and institutions. Teacher-researchers participating in the project then organize their curriculum around this information and these skills. In addition, they call upon the expertise of community members in their efforts to incorporate community-based knowledge sources into their curriculum.
Ethnographic research that situates the school experiences of language-minority children within the context of culture, community, and society has
1When describing their intent, Warren and Roseberry (1995:1) state: "We intend to illustrate how our perspective on learning in science is emerging through contact with socioculturally based theoretical perspectives and with the everyday experiences of teachers and students as they work to build sense-making communities in their classrooms."
provided a rich and complex portrayal of variations in the range of social contexts and circumstances that influence academic performance. While much of this research has focused on those factors implicated in the difficulties students encounter in school, its overall message situates the issue of academic achievement within the context of the social environments in which students participate, consistent with the view that knowledge is socially constructed.
While cultural mismatch is one explanation for the relatively poor academic performance of language-minority children, another avenue of research, known in the literature as differential treatment studies, starts from the assumption that some of those children may not be socialized toward academic achievement. This literature has contributed to the view that language-minority students, along with other ethnic minority students, are treated differently from mainstream students as a result of forces both within and outside of school that implicitly and explicitly promote and sustain the perspectives and institutions of the majority. Ogbu, a primary contributor to this view (Ogbu, 1978; Ogbu and Matute-Bianchi, 1986), has focused on how societal forces have contributed to socialization and acculturation patterns that ultimately influence minority students' academic achievement. Other researchers have concentrated on schools and classrooms when investigating the interaction among cultural, societal, and school influences on student achievement.
Like cultural mismatch studies, differential treatment studies focus on different kinds of comparisons, including those within a single classroom (e.g., Moll and Diaz, 1987) and those within the context of an entire school population (e.g., Gibson, 1988; Suarez-Orozco and Suarez-Orozco, 1995; Tuan, 1995; Harklau, 1994). As Losey (1995) reports, some of the early differential treatment studies include large-scale studies with many subjects, while more recent research has tended to take the form of ethnographic or qualitative accounts of a classroom or school. The latter studies have shown how schools engage in a number of practices that favor the status quo by enabling middle- and upper-class English-speaking students to progress through an educational pipeline that is often inaccessible to low-income ethnic minority students, including those who are deemed to have limited English proficiency. Studies that compare the experiences of language-minority students who have been successful in school with those who have had difficulties have provided important insights into the complex role played by culture and discrimination in the academic experiences of these students.
Despite the vivid and complex picture provided by these studies, it is often difficult to assess the degree to which differential treatment actually explains the circumstances faced by the groups under study. One major problem is operationalizing the term "underachievement" or "lower achievement" as used to
characterize the groups under study. Studies seldom rely on individually assessed data on learning outcomes, particularly as pertains to the students being studied, because such data are seen as part of the positivistic paradigm with which the researchers contrast themselves. Instead, general descriptions of student underachievement (i.e., percentage of dropouts in a given ethnic group, average grade point) or information about the amount and nature of student participation (e.g., total amount of student talk) are used. Assessments of student learning tied to teachers' instructional goals are almost always lacking in these studies.
Another related problem is the inability to determine whether a given set of circumstances is really the cause of the difficulty students encounter in school. This problem is most apparent in the mismatch studies, which leave an important question unanswered: Which of the differences are the important ones for explaining student underachievement? The qualitative designs used in these studies do not establish causal connections between particular discontinuities and student learning. For most researchers working within this tradition, of course, this criticism is not a valid concern.
Cultural Differences in Achievement Motivation
A major nexus of hypotheses about the relatively poor academic performance of language-minority (and English-speaking ethnic minority) children implicates cultural differences in achievement motivationthe set of beliefs children hold about how and why to do well in school. The notion that achievement motivation may vary culturally has been supported by cross-national studies (e.g., Stevenson et al., 1990; Stevenson et al., 1986) showing that Asian children believe high achievement is the result of effort, whereas American children believe it is the result of innate ability. In the United States, however, these ethnic differences are eliminated or even reversed: second-generation Korean American children attribute success to ability more than do European American children (Choi et al., 1994), and high achievers across a variety of ethnic groups (African American, Latino, Indochinese American, and European American, all low-income) attribute their success to their high innate ability (Bempechat et al., in press).
Further analysis of the achievement motivation of Latino and Indochinese immigrant children suggests they have similar perceptions of parental socialization strategies and similar theories of educational success and failure. Nonetheless, the Indochinese immigrants were found to perform better than the Latino children (Bempechat and Williams, 1995). Moreover, Suarez-Orozco and Suarez-Orozco (1995) found that adolescents of Mexican descent showed higher academic achievement and orientation to academic achievement in the immigrant group than in later generations. One aspect of assimilation seems to be a lowering of academic goals, perhaps because of incorporation into a caste-like minority
status or peer stigmatization of high achievement (Ogbu, 1995). It may be that Asian immigrants are less susceptible to the negative consequences of assimilation because, as voluntary immigrants, they place their faith in schools as agents of improvement (DeVos, 1978).
The above findings suggest that while achievement motivation is an important factor in helping to explain school success, it does not explain differences in success among language-minority groups or between immigrant and mainstream groups.
Children's Social and Group Relationships
Research by Harrison (cited in Garcia, 1993) indicates that the dialects spoken by students influence teacher perceptions of their academic ability, the students' learning opportunities, evaluations of their contributions to class, and the way they are grouped for instruction. The languages students speak also influence perceptions of their academic ability and their learning opportunities (Ryan and Carranza, 1977). Language can be the basis as well for categorization and the formation of ingroups and outgroups, especially within an institutional context in which the languages spoken have unequal status. Languages are often symbols of group boundaries and are therefore the sources of intergroup conflicts and tensions (Giles, 1977; Issacs, 1992). The following subsections examine studies of these issues in four areas: social identity theory, or the minimal group paradigm; the contact hypothesis; cooperative learning and interracial contact; and curriculum interventions.
Social Identity Theory: The Minimal Group Paradigm
Whenever ingroups and outgroups form, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination develop. Consequently, it becomes necessary for educators to design and implement strategies for improving intergroup relations. Social psychological theory and research addressing what is known as social identity theory or the minimal group paradigm indicate that when mere categorization develops, individuals favor the ingroup (their own group) over the outgroup and discriminate against the outgroup (Rothbart and John, 1993; Smith and Mackie, 1995). This phenomenon can occur in situations involving no prior historical conflict and animosity, competition, or physical differencesindeed no important differences at all. Writes Tajfel (1970:98-99), "Whenever we are confronted with a situation to which some form of intergroup categorization appears directly relevant, we are likely to act in a manner that discriminates against the outgroup and favors the ingroup." In a series of studies, Tajfel and colleagues (Tajfel, 1970; Billig and Tajfel, 1973) produced considerable evidence to support the postulate that individuals are likely to evaluate the ingroup more positively than the outgroup and to treat the ingroup more favorably, even when the differences between the
groups are minimal, contrived, and insignificant. Language can become the basis for such categorization when some students speak a particular language and others do not, although little of the existing research on intergroup relations examines variables related to language. Lacking such research, we must glean from existing research those policies and practices which can help improve intergroup relations in linguistically, culturally, and racially diverse classrooms.
The minimal group paradigm is more helpful in explaining the development of ingroup-outgroup boundaries than in suggesting practices for reducing them. One implication of the paradigm is that to increase positive intergroup contact, the salience of group characteristics should be minimized, and a superordinate group with which students from different cultural and language groups can become identified should be constructed. In a classroom characterized by language diversity, group salience is likely to be reduced to the extent that all students become competent in the same languages. For example, in a classroom with both Anglos and Mexican Americans, group salience is increased if only the Mexican American students speak Spanish. However, if both Anglo and Mexican American students become competent in both English and Spanish, this bilingual competency can be the basis for the formation of a superordinate group to which all of the students belong.
Two-way bilingual programs, in which students from two different language groups learn both languages, may provide an effective way of reducing group salience and constructing a superordinate group identity. As an example, 300 students were enrolled in the Amigos two-way elementary school bilingual program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1993 (Lambert and Cazabon, 1994). Half of the students enrolled in the program were native Spanish speakers and half native English speakers. Each language was used as the medium of instruction for half of the school day. Lambert and Cazabon found that the students in the program formed close friendships with members of both their own and the other group.
The Contact Hypothesis
Most of the work in social psychology related to race relations has been guided by the contact hypothesis and related research that emerged out of the events surrounding World War II. The rise of Nazi anti-Semitism and its devastating consequences motivated social scientists in the post-war years to devote considerable attention to theory and research related to improving intergroup relations. The contact hypothesis that guides most of the research and theory in intergroup relations today emerged from the classic work by Williams (1947) and Allport (1954). The hypothesis explains the conditions that must exist in interaction situations among different racial and ethnic groups in order for the interactions to result in positive rather than negative attitudes.
Allport (1954) states that contact between groups improves intergroup relations
when the contact is characterized by four conditions: (1) equal status, (2) cooperation rather than competition, (3) sanctioning by authorities, and (4) interpersonal interactions in which people become acquainted as individuals. Stephan and Stephan (1996) describe the latter condition as "individualized contact." Writes Allport (1979/1954:281):
Prejudice (unless deeply rooted in the structure of the individual) may be reduced by equal status contact between majority and minority groups in the pursuit of common goals. The effect is greatly enhanced if this contact is sanctioned by institutionalized supports (i.e., by law, custom, or local atmosphere), and provided it is of a sort that leads to the perception of common interests and common humanity between members of the two groups.
It should also be noted, however, that despite its significant influence on theory and practice, the contact hypothesis has a number of limitations. Pettigrew (1986:171) suggests that it is a theory "of modest scope derived to explain a particular and limited set of conflicting empirical findings in an applied area of interestchanges in intergroup attitudes as a function of intergroup contact under varying conditions." Moreover, most intergroup research related to classrooms was conducted in the 1970s and 1980s, and almost none of it in the 1990s. Thus, most of the research on race relations and cooperative groups was conducted using African Americans and whites as subjects. Race relations changed in significant ways during the 1980s and 1990s, however, when large numbers of students from Asia and Latin America entered the nation's classrooms.2 Nevertheless, to improve intergroup relations in the nation's schools, educators must use the best theories available. The contact hypothesis is a theory that can be used to help educational practitioners improve intergroup relations in linguistically and culturally diverse classrooms.
Cooperative Learning and Interracial Contact
Since 1970, investigators have accumulated an impressive body of research on the effects of cooperative learning groups and activities on students' racial attitudes, friendship choices, and achievement. Much of this research has been conducted as well as reviewed by investigators such as Aronson and colleagues (Aronson and Bridgeman, 1979; Aronson and Gonzalez, 1988), Cohen and colleagues (Cohen, 1972, 1986; Cohen and Roper, 1972; Cohen and Lotan, 1995), Johnson and Johnson (1981, 1991), Slavin (1979, 1983, 1985), and Slavin and Madden (1979). Schofield (1995) has written an informative review of this
2Between 1981 and 1990, about 67 percent of the immigrants that entered the United States came from Mexico and nations in Central America and Asia; less than 10 percent came from Europe (Hansen and Bachu, 1995).
research, most of which has been conducted using elementary and high school students as subjects (Slavin, 1983, 1985).
The research on cooperative learning and interracial contact that has been conducted since 1970 is grounded in the theory of intergroup relations developed by Allport (1954). The results of this research lend considerable support to the postulate that if the conditions stated by Allport are present in the contact situations, cooperative interracial contact in schools has positive effects on both student interracial behavior and academic achievement (Aronson and Gonzalez, 1988; Slavin, 1979, 1983). In his review of 19 studies of the effects of cooperative learning methods, Slavin (1985) found that 16 showed positive effects on interracial friendships. In a more recent review, Slavin (1995) also describes the positive effects of cooperative groups on cross-racial friendships, racial attitudes, and behavior.
Most of this research supports the following postulates: (1) students of color and white students have a greater tendency to make cross-racial friendship choices after they have participated in interracial cooperative learning teams (Aronson and Bridgeman, 1979; Slavin, 1979); and (2) the academic achievement of students of color, such as African Americans and Mexican Americans, is increased when cooperative learning activities are used, while the academic achievement of white students remains about the same in both cooperative and competitive learning situations (Aronson and Gonzalez, 1988; Slavin, 1985). Investigators have also found that cooperative learning methods increase student motivation and self-esteem (Slavin, 1985) and help students develop empathy (Aronson and Bridgeman, 1979).
An essential characteristic of effective cooperative learning groups and methods is that the students experience equal status in the contact situation (Allport, 1954). Cohen (1972) points out that in an initial contact situation, both African American and white students may attribute higher status to whites that may perpetuate white dominance. Cohen and Roper (1972) designed an intervention to change this expectation for African American and white students. She also implemented a project in bilingual classrooms made up largely of children of Hispanic background with a small proportion of white, African American, and Asian children (Cohen and Intili, 1981; Cohen, 1984a, 1984b). Mixed groups of children worked together in learning centers on math and science activities; bilingual versions of the materials were available.
The research by Cohen and Roper (1972) indicates that equal status between groups in interracial and interethnic situations must be constructed by teachers, rather than assumed. If students from diverse racial, ethnic, and language groups are mixed without structured interventions that create equal-status conditions in the contact situation, racial and ethnic categorization and conflict are likely to increase. In a series of perceptive and carefully designed studies that span two decades, Cohen and colleagues (Cohen, 1984a, 1984b; Cohen and Roper, 1972; Cohen and Lotan, 1995) have consistently found that contact among different
groups without deliberate interventions to increase equal status and positive interactions will increase rather than reduce intergroup tensions. Cohen (1994) has developed practical guidelines and strategies that can be used by teachers and other practitioners to create equal status within racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse classrooms.
There is a great deal of discussion but little agreement about what constitutes equal status in intergroup contact situations. Some researchers interpret equal status to mean equal socioeconomic status. For example, in his summary of favorable and unfavorable conditions that influence interracial contact, Amir (quoted in Hewstone and Brown, 1986:7) describes the following as an unfavorable condition: ''contact between a majority and a minority group, when the members of the minority group are of lower status or are lower in any relevant characteristics than the members of the majority group." Yet Cohen and Roper (1972) interpret equal status differently. Although the African American and white students in their study were from different social-class groups, the researchers created equal status in the classroom by modifying the students' perceptions of each racial group. They accomplished this by assigning the African-American students a task that increased their status in the classroom. Cohen and Roper applied a social-psychological, rather than a socioeconomic, view of equal status.
The representations of different ethnic, racial, and language groups that are embedded in curriculum materials and textbooks and within the activities and teaching strategies of instructors privilege some groups of students (thus increasing their classroom status) and erode the status of others by reinforcing their marginal status in the larger society. Studies of textbooks indicate that the images of groups they project reflect those which are institutionalized within the larger society (Sleeter and Grant, 1991). If we view status from a social-psychological perspective, as do Cohen and Roper (1972), a multicultural curriculum that includes representations of diverse groups in realistic and complex ways can help equalize the status of all groups within the classroom or school. Only a few studies of curriculum intervention are reviewed here; see Stephan (1985) and Banks (1993, 1995) for more comprehensive reviews.
Since the 1940s, several curriculum intervention studies have been conducted to determine the effects of multi-ethnic and -racial lessons and materials, role playing, and other kinds of simulated experiences on the attitudes and perceptions of students. The limitations of these studies are similar to those that characterize most intergroup relations studies, such as those on categorization (Tajfel, 1970) and cooperative groups (Slavin, 1985). Most curriculum intervention studies are related to African Americans and whites, are of rather short duration, involve little follow-up, rarely measure the actual behavior of the subjects,
use a variety of measures that have low intercorrelation, and have used interventions that are often not well defined so that it is difficult for the studies to be replicated by other researchers (Banks, 1995).
Despite the limitations of these studies, however, they provide guidelines that can help educators improve intergroup relations in the nation's classrooms and schools. In a study conducted by Litcher and Johnson (1969), white second grade children developed more positive racial attitudes after using multi-ethnic readers. However, when Litcher et al. (1973) replicated this study using photographs instead of readers, the children's racial attitudes were not significantly changed. The investigators suggested that the shorter length of the latter study (1 month versus 4) and the different racial compositions of the two communities in which the studies were conducted could help explain why there were no significant effects on the children's racial attitudes in the second study. (The community in which the second study was conducted had a much higher percentage of African American residents than did the community in which the first was conducted.)
The effects of a simulation on the racial attitudes of third graders were examined by Weiner and Wright (1973). They divided a class into orange and green people. The children wore colored armbands that designated their group status. On one day of the intervention, the students who wore orange armbands experienced discrimination; on the other day, the children who wrote green armbands were the victims. On the third day and again 2 weeks later, the children expressed less-prejudiced beliefs and attitudes.
The effects of multi-ethnic social studies materials and related experiences on the racial attitudes of 4-year-old African American children were examined by Yawkey and Blackwell (1974). The children were divided into three groups. The students in group 1 read and discussed the materials. The group 2 students read and discussed the materials and also took a related field trip. The students in group 3 experienced the traditional preschool curriculum. The interventions in groups 1 and 2 had a significant, positive effect on the students' racial attitudes toward African Americans and whites.
Research indicates that curriculum interventions such as plays, folk dances, music, and role playing can also have positive effects on the ethnic and racial attitudes of students. Four plays about African Americans, Chinese Americans, Jews, and Puerto Ricans increased racial acceptance and cultural knowledge among fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in the New York City schools (Gimmestad and DeChiara, 1982). McGregor (1993) used meta-analysis to integrate findings of 26 studies and examine the effects of role playing and antiracist teaching on reducing prejudice in students. He concluded that role playing and antiracist teaching "significantly reduce racial prejudice, and do not differ from each other in their effectiveness" (p. 215).
With particular relevance to language-minority children, two-way bilingual programs have been shown to foster friendships across ethnic lines, as well as
high self-esteem among both the language-minority and language-majority children (Cazabon et al., 1993; Lambert and Cazabon, 1994). The Lambert and Cazabon (1994) study of third-graders who had been in a two-way program since kindergarten found that the children expressed a preference for multi-ethnic classrooms. Of course, such attitudes may be less a product of the program than a reflection of the home experiences of children whose parents chose such a program.
Parental Involvement in Children's School Learning
There may be differing views between home and school regarding parents' appropriate role in the education of their children. Parents may feel that school subjects are the responsibility of the teacher, that the parent is responsible only for sending the child to school ready to learn. American schools, on the other hand, value a certain amount of parental participation in education and may unwittingly punish parents who fail to contribute in the culturally prescribed way (see Hidalgo et al., 1995).
Much research has emphasized the parental role in ensuring children's academic achievement (Epstein, 1990, 1992). Parents are seen as providing their children with motivational resources, including self-esteem, agency, and self-control (e.g., Connell and Wellborn, 1990), and as helping to instill in them high expectations and good work habits (Entwisle and Alexander, in press). Parents often establish partnerships with their children's schools, thus extending school learning effectively into the home and reinforcing academic values outside school (Henderson, 1987; Dornbusch and Ritter, 1988). Positive effects of such partnerships have been found with both low- and middle-income populations, as well as populations of different racial/ethnic groups (Comer, 1986; Delgado-Gaitan, 1990; Epstein and Dauber, 1991; Dauber and Epstein, 1993; Hidalgo et al., 1995; Robledo Montecel, 1993).
Studies describing parental involvement in immigrant and language-minority families can be classified according to Epstein's types or categories of involvement. The first type covers actions taken in the home to promote child academic achievement; much evidence suggests that immigrant and language-minority children benefit from this form of parental involvement. For example, ethnographic work reveals that Puerto Rican parents use four different strategiesmonitoring, communication, motivational, and protectiveto promote their children's academic success (Hidalgo et al., 1995). Monitoring strategies are actions related to the academic learning of the child; communication strategies are processes that aim to foster open, nurturing family relationships; motivational strategies stimulate the child's interest in school; and protective strategies are actions geared to maintaining child safety.
Chinese American parents display two patterns of parental involvement based on, among other things, whether they are recent immigrants. Siu's (1995) longitudinal
ethnographic study found that immigrant Chinese American parents tightly structured their children's learning environment because the parents were often unfamiliar with the school and its ways. These parents tried to ensure their children's academic success by engaging in such tasks as assigning additional homework. The Chinese American parents who themselves had experienced schooling in the United States allowed their children more choices, placing less emphasis on regulated academic work and more on independence and creativity. Siu labels these two parental involvement approaches low- and high-security patterns, respectively.
Vélez-Ibañez and Greenberg's (1992) qualitative work with Mexican-American families defines domains of knowledge transmitted by families to their children, which, borrowing from Moll (1992), they call "funds of knowledge." Mexican American families express a preference for social networks in which families operate to form clusters of social relations: "…these networks form social contexts for the transmission of knowledge, skills, information, and assistance, as well as cultural values and norms" (Moll et al., 1990:4). Funds of knowledge are reaffirmed and maintained through the interchange of information within the social relational framework.
In her qualitative study of 59 Puerto Rican families of high- and low-achieving students, Diaz-Soto (1988) found that "parents acted as facilitators within an organized framework of expectations" (p. 19). Diaz-Soto found a number of recurrent themes in the homes of high achievers: language (parents used both Spanish and English in communicating with their children), aspirations (parents held high expectations for their children's future careers), discipline (parents employed consistent controlling strategies), and protectiveness ("parents always knew where their children were") (p. 12).
These and related studies reveal parental behaviors that foster child learning. However, those behaviors may not be visible to school personnel, and the learning may not be highly valued at school, either. Teachers' notions of desirable parent involvement include coming to conferences, responding to notes, and participating in the classroomnotions that may be foreign to immigrant parents (Allexsaht-Snider, 1992; Matsuda, 1989). Explicit information from teachers about their expectations for parental involvement may well not be communicated to parents (Delgado-Gaitan, 1990, 1993; Glenn, 1996) in the absence of explicit programs such as parent centers designed to promote the exchange of such information (Johnson, 1993, 1994; Rubio, 1995). Two-generation literacy programs (McCollum, 1993), parent training seminars (Smith, 1993), and Epstein's program Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (Epstein et al., 1995) have all been demonstrated to help align parental involvement with teacher expectations.
4-1. Research is needed to examine what innovative classroom organizations and interventions, such as curriculum content, can influence children's views of themselves and of members of other ethnic groups, promoting cross-ethnic friendships and positive regard.
There is some evidence, both from experimental studies and from educational experiments such as desegregation and two-way bilingual programs, that it is possible to promote healthy cross-ethnic relationships as well as positive self-identities for children from minority groups. These demonstrations, however, have been few and limited in the range of groups they have involved. Fostering full participation as a productive citizen in a society that is characterized by racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity requires incorporating positive intergroup relations into our goals for school outcomes and assessing the best ways of achieving this end.
4-2. There is a need for research on academic learning, including both literacy learning and content area learning, that incorporates information about the social and motivational factors known to affect outcomes. Does excellent instruction take into account home-school mismatches or simply teach children the school discourse effectively? Does promoting parent-school contact affect children's learning by increasing motivation, by changing teacher attitudes, or by enabling parents to help their children more effectively? Can we devise programs that directly affect children's motivation to succeed in order to examine secondary effects on their academic outcomes?
We argue that fully understanding the nature of school achievement for language-minority children, as for native English speakers, requires operating with a model that incorporates both cognitive and social/motivational factors known to be of importance. Future research should attempt at least to acknowledge the relevance of the full array of factors, and if possible to assess the contributions of both cognitive and social/motivational processes in ensuring school success.
Status Differences Among Children's Language
4-3. There are two important questions for research regarding status differences among various languages. First, what are the consequences of such differences for children's intergroup and interpersonal relations? Second, how do teachers' perceptions of the status of children's languages influence their interactions with, expectations of, and behavior toward the children?
Most of the current intergroup studies conceptualize problems of intergroup relations as African American/white, with African Americans often viewed as "the problem." Myrdal and colleagues (Myrdal et al., 1944) titled their study, which was destined to become a classic, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. Today we realize that intergroup problems in the United States are much more complex than African American/white. Studies are needed to examine intergroup relations both across and within ethnic groups, e.g., Mexican Americans/African Americans and Mexican Americans/Puerto Rican Americans.
Nonobtrusive studies that examine intergroup relations in natural settings are also needed. Most existing intergroup studies are laboratory or curriculum interventions that have a highly limited focus. It is difficult to generalize some of the findings of these studies to the world of classrooms and schools.
In addition, studies are needed to describe the extent to which language-minority students are stigmatized because of their language characteristics and how those characteristics affect their self-perceptions and classroom status. Studies are also needed to develop interventions that can help raise the status of language-minority students in classrooms and schools.
New paradigms and theories that can guide research and practice in intergroup relations need to be conceptualized and tested empirically. Existing paradigms and theories, such as social identity theory and the contact hypothesis, need to be seriously examined in light of the important demographic changes that have occurred in U.S. society within the last two decades. These paradigms and theories were developed during a time when race relations problems in the United States were different in important ways. Although they are the best we have to guide interventions at this time, thoughtful funding of field-initiated research is likely to attract a new generation of scholars into intergroup relations researchmany from racial and language-minority communitieswho are most likely to develop new paradigms, theories, and findings that are more appropriate for a new century.
Home-School Alignment in Instructional Practices
4-4. Research needs to address the alignment between home and school. Are there classroom structures and practices that are particularly familiar to language-minority children and thus promote their learning by minimizing home-school mismatches? Are there procedures for inducting language-minority children into novel classroom and instructional interactions that promote their learning of English and of subject matter?
Novel instructional practices are often seen as universally desirable, rather than as possibly more helpful for some subgroups of children than others. Careful attention to the kinds of instructional interactions that occur in the homes of
language-minority children is needed, as well as much more work on analyzing the nature of the classroom organization and of instructional interactions in classrooms that serve these children successfully.
Academic Socialization in Language-Minority Homes
4-5. Research is needed to examine the nature of socialization practices in the homes of language-minority children with regard to both content (e.g., exposure to literacy, opportunities for participation in substantive conversations) and socialization in ways of learning (e.g., through observation versus participation, in a relationship of collaboration versus respectful distance from the expert).
Enough research has been done on cultural differences in home socialization practices with regard to school learning that we know these differences exist. We have, however, almost no information about these issues for many of the ethnic groups that are now well represented among America's language-minority children. We have some knowledge of these socialization practices among families of Mexican descent, but know almost nothing about them among Puerto Rican, Santo Domingan, Central American, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Haitian, or Cape Verdean families. Much more basic descriptive work is needed, both as input to understanding the factors that operate in academic achievement and as input to the education of teachers who will have these children in their classrooms.
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From the literature on student assessment, the following key findings can be drawn:
Several uses of assessment are unique to English-language learners and bilingual children. They include identification of children whose English proficiency is limited, determination of eligibility for placement in specific language programs, and monitoring of progress in and readiness to exit from special language service programs.
English-language learners are assessed for purposes that extend beyond determination of their language needs, including placement in categorically funded education programs such as Title I, placement in remedial or advanced classwork, monitoring of achievement in compliance with district- and/or state-level programs, and certification for high school graduation and determination of academic mastery at graduation.
It is essential that any assessment impacting children's education strive to meet standards of validity (whether inferences drawn are appropriate to the purposes of the assessment) and reliability (whether assessment outcomes are accurate in light of variations due to factors irrelevant to what the assessment was intended to measure).
States and local districts use a variety of methods to determine which students need to be placed in special language-related programs and monitor students' progress in those programs. Administration of language proficiency tests is the most common method. Achievement tests in English are also frequently used.
Regardless of the modality of testing, many existing English-language proficiency instruments emphasize measurement of a limited range of grammatical and structural skills.
States use a variety of procedures to assess student academic performance, including performance-based assessments and standardized achievement tests, and states are in various stages of incorporating English-language learners into these assessments.
To a large extent, the field lacks instruments appropriate for assessing very young English-language learners, as well as English-language learners with disabilities.
The standards-based reform movement has major implications for the assessment of English-language learners.