Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-9-2018

Faculty Advisor(s)

Cathery Yeh


There is growing attention on the mathematics learning experiences of emergent bilingual students, a term used rather than English language learners to emphasize the rich linguistic knowledge of students who know and speak two or more languages instead of how they are often positioned of not knowing English, in the field of mathematics education. The majority of past and current studies have examined the impact of students’ language proficiency on academic performance. While this work has deepened understanding of mathematics learning for emergent bilinguals, language is only one of many semiotic resources (e.g. physical control of space, gestures, and gaze) at play in bilingual/multilingual classrooms. Research is needed that unpack the development of principled instruction that supports students’ engagement in meaningful disciplinary discourse practices. Using Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as a framework, I examine classrooms as complex activity systems. Learning is considered a social endeavor that occurs as students engage individually and collectively with each other and with mediational tools that impact student participation. Study findings demonstrate the importance of using a systems approach to examining individual and intersectional impact of teacher’s decision-making (e.g. tasks, mediating artifacts, division of labor, community, and norms) on student learning. Findings offer guidance to mathematics educators on the design classroom learning spaces that better leverage emergent bilingual students’ individual and collective abilities.


Presented at the Spring 2018 Student Research Day at Chapman University.