An Investigation into the Connection Between Out-of-School Time S.T.E.M. Learning and Student English Acquistion
Orduna, Armando X.
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Background: Student achievement in science in the U.S. is quite low, particularly among English Language learners (ELLs). One way to support ELLs’ learning is through the provision of high quality out-of-school time (OST) programs. These programs not only enhance students’ understanding of content and skills but also expose them to more English. Research has investigated the relationship between students’ participation in OST programs and their content knowledge in those same areas but research has yet to consider any possible relationship between participation in OST programs and English language acquisition. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate how participating in an OST elementary S.T.E.M. program (OSTEM) affected ELLs’ English language proficiency and development. Methods: Three years of ELL student achievement data from English proficiency progress measures were collected across twenty campuses which were evenly distributed across ten intervention and ten comparison schools in the same large urban district. The control schools were chosen using propensity score matching. Two chi square tests of independence were used to analyze the student achievement data. Findings: The results suggested that ELLs at the OSTEM schools acquired higher levels of English than their comparable peers. Additionally, results suggested that OSTEM schools saw ELLs progressing over their comparable peers particularly from Beginning to Intermediate status. Conclusion: Further studies could investigate whether there is an effect following student cohorts over periods of time to determine the extent to which inquiry-based S.T.E.M. learning conducted in an OST environment could raise ELL achievement in both the areas of S.T.E.M. achievement and English acquisition. Possible evidence linking higher levels of progress in English acquisition to OST S.T.E.M. programming could motivate the proliferation of like programs into greater numbers of schools impacting greater numbers of ELL students.