Designing Effective Guidance for Visualization Technologies to Help English Language Learners Succeed in Mainstream Science Classrooms
Kihyun Kelly Ryoo

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Primary Discipline

Science Education
New visualization technologies have the potential to improve science learning for all students, including English Language Learners (ELLs) who have been marginalized in mainstream classrooms. Dynamic visualizations can depict the continuous changes and processes of dynamic systems that are difficult to infer from static pictures or text-based representations. This unique feature of dynamic visualizations can strengthen science instruction in general and potentially benefit ELLs by reducing the linguistic burden of instruction and providing ELLs with a visual context to interpret instructional explanations. However, simply visualizing scientific phenomena using these technologies does not automatically lead to improved learning. Effective learning from dynamic visualizations requires instructional guidance to help students distinguish among multiple ideas and reflect on their learning progress. While a number of studies have explored various forms of guidance for dynamic visualizations in general, there are no clear guidelines concerning how best to support ELLs in learning from dynamic visualizations. This proposed research will therefore explore how to design effective guidance to help ELLs benefit from dynamic visualizations and succeed in mainstream science classrooms. Building on my previous research, this mixed-methods project will compare the effects of generating guidance to reading guidance while interacting with visualizations in improving ELLs’ and non-ELLs’ integrated understanding of energy and matter transformations at the molecular level and explore how these two forms of guidance affect their discourse patterns and learning paths.
About Kihyun Kelly Ryoo
Kihyun Kelly Ryoo is an Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She received her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Technology Design with a specialization in Science Education from Stanford University. Prior to joining the faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill, she was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on designing and studying innovative technologies that can support English learners and language minority students in developing a coherent understanding of complex scientific phenomena. Funded by the Spencer Foundation and UNC-Chapel Hill, her current research explores how different types of visualizations in web-based inquiry instruction can improve science learning for both English learners and their English-proficient peers in linguistically heterogeneous classrooms.

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