Examining the Teaching of Conservation Biology Topics to Emergent Bilinguals
Diego Roman

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Research Development Award

Award Year



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Discipline

Human actions are causing the decline of biodiversity, a central component of Earth’s life support systems. In fact, recent studies have shown that we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction driven by human overpopulation and have recommended society to take immediate action to counteract biodiversity loss. With the purpose of providing scientific knowledge that could aid individuals in reducing their negative environmental impacts, conservation biology emerged in the 1980s. Not only conservation biology still needs to be meaningfully integrated into the teaching of science in K-12 schools, but also little is known on how to teach environmental topics to children learning English as an additional language in schools in the United States—children who usually attend linguistically segregated schools and tend to live in urban areas that disproportionally suffer the effects of environmental degradation. This project adopts a sociolinguistic approach based on Systemic Functional Linguistics to investigate how middle school science textbooks and science teachers working with Emergent Bilinguals (EBs) in urban schools discuss the impacts of (1) human population growth on local biodiversity and (2) the access underserved communities have to ecosystem services (i.e., the material and socio-emotional benefits provided by natural areas). The project will be implemented in Title I middle schools with high populations of EBs and will consist of an in depth examination of how 4 middle school teachers teach the conservation biology topics mentioned earlier to linguistically diverse students.
About Diego Roman
Diego Román is an Assistant Professor in Bilingual/Bicultural Education at the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to this appointment, he was an Assistant Professor in Bilingual Education at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Román holds a B.S. degree in Agronomy from Zamorano University in Honduras and a M.S. degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He also earned a M.S. degree in Biology, a M.A. in Linguistics, and a Ph.D. degree in Educational Linguistics, all from Stanford University. At the K-12 level, Dr. Román taught middle school science to Emergent Bilinguals for seven years, first in rural Wisconsin and then in San Francisco, California. Dr. Román?s research interests are located at the intersection of applied linguistics, bilingual education, and science education. Specifically, he investigates the implicit and explicit ideologies reflected in the design and implementation of bilingual and science education programs particularly on how environmental topics are taught to multilingual students. He conducts his research from a Systemic Functional Linguistics perspective by analyzing the linguistic and multimodal characteristics of the discourse that take place in bilingual and science classrooms. Dr. Román has researched the language used to teach climate change at the middle school level and is currently examining science, environmental, and bilingual programs (Spanish/English and Kichwa/Spanish) in rural Wisconsin and in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Pin It on Pinterest