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Resources for Teachers and Teacher Educators

Project DELTA Survey

As part of Project DELTA, a survey was administered to graduates of our ESOL-Infused Elementary ProTeach program who had completed the program between 2002 and 2007.  It was designed to tap into the conceptual, pedagogical, and attitudinal attributes that have been associated with effective teaching of ELLs in the professional literature on ESOL instruction (Menken & Antuñez, 2001; TESOL, 2010) and that informed the development of the teacher preparation program.  The body of ESOL content knowledge and teacher competencies that framed the requirements of the ESOL endorsement served as a foundation in developing the survey.  A number of survey items were drawn from pre-post questionnaires that had been developed in-house and administered to assess teacher candidates’ ELL-related learning in the preservice program.  Florida’s (25) Performance Standards for ESOL Teachers were also consulted, as were several national professional standards documents, including the TESOL/NCATE Standards for ESL Teacher Education Programs, the TESOL P-12 English Language Proficiency Standards, and the 5 CREDE Standards for Effective Pedagogy

Throughout the 4-month development period, multiple drafts of the survey were reviewed and revised by Project DELTA faculty and research assistants.  In an attempt to increase the content validity of the survey, a pilot version was sent to a group of 10 respected teacher education colleagues and classroom teachers with expertise in teaching elementary ELLs in both ESOL and mainstream classrooms.  These ESOL content experts were asked to complete the survey themselves and provide constructive feedback. Six of these reviewers provided extensive comments related to the clarity of individual items and overall length of the survey.  Project DELTA staff attempted to address each of these concerns, and recommended changes were incorporated into the revised survey instrument.

The first section of the survey consists of a set of open-ended questions intended to elicit teacher background characteristics (such as number of years of teaching experience and areas of certification) as well as school and student demographics (such as size, linguistic diversity, and national origin of the ELL student population, and high poverty school status). The second section of the survey consists of 49 statements of teacher knowledge and skills related to effective instruction of ELLs, grouped into five conceptual domains:

A) Social and Cultural Dimensions of Teaching;

B) Content Area Instruction;

C) Language and Literacy Development;

D) Curriculum and Classroom Organization; and

E) Assessment Issues.

A Likert-type scale provided response options ranging from 1 to 4 (with 4 indicating a strong positive response, and 1 indicating a strong negative response), with a “not applicable” option. For each of the 49 competency statements in this section of the survey, teachers responded to the following pair of prompts:  a) “How effective do you feel you are/were with your ESOL students?” and b) “How well do you feel the ProTeach program prepared you to work with your ESOL students?”  The third and final section of the survey asked teachers to indicate which of the preservice clinical or field experiences in the ProTeach program had been most helpful in preparing them to work effectively with ELLs.

The findings from the survey have been reported through the conference presentations and journal articles listed below.

Coady, M., de Jong, E. J., and Harper, C. (in press, 2011) . Preservice to practice: Mainstream teacher beliefs of preparation and efficacy with English language learners in the state of Florida. Bilingual Research Journal 34(2).

Harper, C. A., Coady, M. R., & de Jong, E. J (2010). From Preservice to Practice: Preparing All New Teachers for English Language Learners. Australia Council of TESOL Associations-International TESOL Conference, July, 2010, Queensland, AU.

Coady, M., de Jong, E. J. & Harper, C. (2009, April). Preservice to Practice: Florida Teachers working with English Language Learners. Roundtable Presentation at the American Educational Research Association (AERA). San Diego, CA.

Project DELTA Observation Protocol

The Project DELTA Observation Protocol was designed to capture the instructional practices of elementary grade level teachers in math and reading lessons (typically 45-60 minutes each) with English Language Learners (ELLs) in mainstream classes.  The development of the observation protocol was informed by an extensive review of the professional literature on effective instructional practices with ELLs (e.g., Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2000; Gersten & Baker, 2000; Lucas, Henze, & Donato, 2000; Tikunoff et al., 1991) as well as a careful examination of the performance indicators used in other protocols developed for classroom observation research (e.g., Echevarria et al., 2000; de Graaff et al., 2007; Gersten & Baker, 2000).  The initial protocol was completed in fall, 2008 and piloted in spring, 2009 with three teachers of ELLs in mainstream math and reading classes.

The Project DELTA Observation Protocol was revised to incorporate additional teacher practices that had emerged during the pilot observations using the instrument.  The final version of the protocol consisted of classroom practices clustered in four broad categories: linguistically and culturally responsive teaching; increased comprehensibility (comprehensible input); scaffolding language and literacy development (in mathematics and in reading); and formal and informal assessment.  Those four categories encompassed 60 separate, observable performance indicators, such as “teacher states language learning objectives verbally or writes and displays them visually for students (e.g., on the board, chart paper).”  Examples of the practices, if any, were placed in parentheses next to the indicator, as above.  The protocol form provided space for observers to draw the classroom layout and seating plan, indicate which students were ELLs, describe grouping structure(s) during the lesson, and ask questions about the lesson itself.

The final version of the DELTA observation protocol was used to collect data in DELTA case study teacher’s classrooms in fall, 2009.   However, Project DELTA researchers found that the process of checking off on the numerous indicators during “real time” observations was overly cumbersome and left insufficient time and space (on the instrument itself) for detailed field notes.  Instead, we opted to use “running notes” that described step-by-step teaching practices in all classroom observations scheduled after October 2009.  The observation protocol then served as an initial analytic tool in our analysis of the transcribed data.   The performance indicators and the four conceptual categories were used initially as points of reference, but new conceptual categories also emerged from the data to reflect observed teacher practices.