More Than Words: How Emergent Bilingual Students Laminate Multiple Semiotic Resources When Investigating Justice-Oriented Natural Phenomena
Enrique Suárez

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Primary Discipline

Science Education
Reform efforts in science education call for students to learn science by engaging in science practices, such as constructing and refining explanatory models. Additionally, efforts to make science more equitable emphasize the need for science learning to connect to students? lives and communities. And yet, for decades, the field of science education has debated what should be prioritized when (emergent) bi-/multilingual children learn science. While some privilege students acquiring ?scientific academic? language, I argue that bi-/multilingual children should learn science through building on their full communicative repertoires, rather than being assimilated into dominant forms of knowing and communicating. In this proposed research, I build on translanguaging ? a theoretical and pedagogical lens for understanding how bi-/multilingual speakers flexibly leverage their full semiotics repertoires ? to explore how bilingual students in elementary grades investigate phenomena and co-construct knowledge, particularly when interacting with their material environments. Specifically, I will partner with elementary school teachers to design science learning activities that are anchored in justice-oriented phenomena and promote bilingual students? sophisticated translanguaging practices. The classrooms interactions and instructional designs I analyze will provide strategic insight into how these students laminate multilingual, multimodal, multisensory, and spatial resources when co-constructing knowledge about phenomena, especially when supported by science artifacts. Findings from this project can further inform how to design justice-oriented science education for bi-/multilingual children, as well as disrupt the deficit-based science pedagogies that frame these students? ways of communicating as insufficient and inappropriate.
About Enrique Suárez
Enrique (Henry) Suárez is an Assistant Professor of Science Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Drawing on a range of learning theories, his scholarship focuses on making science learning equitable and just for students and teachers, emphasizing the importance of understanding and relating to the natural world through investigations. Specifically, Henry?s research focuses on designing and studying learning environments that create opportunities for elementary-aged multilingual students to leverage their translanguaging practices for learning science. Ultimately, Henry?s work aims to disrupt linguistic injustices in science learning environments, which police and denigrate students? multilingual, multimodal, and multisensory forms of communication. His scholarship has appeared in Science Education, Cognition & Instruction, and Journal of Research in Science Teaching, among other journals. Most recently, he was a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee on Enhancing Science and Engineering Education in Pre-Kindergarten Through Fifth Grades. Henry received his PhD in Science Education from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2017 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Science and Math Education at the University of Washington 2017-2019. He also holds a B.S. in astrophysics from the University of Oklahoma and a M.S. in science education from Tufts University.

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