ESTELL Project Overview

Project Overview

Effective Science Teaching for English Language Learners (ESTELL): A Pre-Service Teacher Professional Development Research Project is funded by the National Science Foundation DR-K-12 Discovery Research Program. The ESTELL project focuses on improving the science teaching and learning of K-6 linguistic minority students who are currently underserved in K-6 education through improving the pre-service education of elementary school teachers. The goal of this project is to design, implement and evaluate a comprehensive, integrated model of pre-service elementary science teacher education by adapting a model of linguistically and culturally responsive ESTELL pedagogy that prior research has demonstrated significantly improves the achievement of English Language Learners.  ESTELL involves a collaboration between researchers and science teacher educators at the University of California Santa Cruz, San Diego State University, San Francisco State University and San Jose State University.

The empirical evidence for ESTELL is based on two bodies of prior work produced by researchers in the USDOE funded Center for Research on Education Diversity and Excellence (CREDE) project and the NSF funded Language Acquisition through Science Education in Rural Schools (LASERS) project. Both approaches have identified a common set of specific and observable teacher actions that a substantial body of empirical research has demonstrated raise the achievement of culturally and linguistically diverse students and improve their motivation to learn. 

This research has identified six instructional practices that promote achievement of ELLs in science:

  1. COLLABORATIVE INQUIRY: The teacher promotes equitable participation and student construction of scientific knowledge through inquiry-based, collaborative activities.
  2. SCIENCE TALK: The teacher engages students in sustained discussions of science topics and assists students’ develop oral expressions of scientific reasoning and argumentation.
  3. LANGUAGE AND LITERACY IN SCIENCE: The teacher both promotes science vocabulary learning and engages students in reading and writing activities that are authentic to science.
  4. SCAFFOLDING ENGLISH LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT: The teacher modifies and scaffolds instruction to help ELL students increase both their English language fluency and science content understandings.
  5. CONTEXTUALIZING SCIENCE ACTIVITY: The teacher integrates students’ knowledge and resources from their homes and communities through culturally responsive and socially relevant science instruction, and engages students in exploring science concepts within their local physical or ecological and global environments.
  6. DEVELOPING SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING: The teacher encourages students to develop and use scientific reasoning through inquiry activities and investigations.

The ESTELL teacher education program integrates ESTELL pedagogy into all components of pre-service teacher education:

  1. ESTELL science teaching methods course;
  2. teaching practicum with coaching and support in the ESTELL pedagogy by teacher supervisors and cooperating teachers who model ESTELL pedagogy; and
  3. coaching and support for ESTELL pedagogy in the first year of teaching.

The primary research focus is to compare the knowledge, beliefs and practice of elementary student and beginning teachers who participate in the ESTELL pre-service teacher education program with that of student and beginning teachers who are not trained in the ESTELL model. Researchers will study three successive cohorts of student teachers from their entry into the pre-service teacher education program through their frist year of teaching across three stages of implementation. Novice teachers will complete the ESTELL Teacher Beliefs Survey (ETBS) and be observed using the DAISI (Dialogic Activity in Science Instruction Rubric). We are also studying student achievement of the teachers trained with the ESTELL framework compared to teachers not trained with the framework.