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MULTIMODAL ANALYSIS OF MINORITIZED LEARNERS’ SCIENCE ENGAGEMENT IN AN AFTERSCHOOL SCIENCE PROGRAM
Science engagement, defined as a learners’ active participation in learning, is traditionally viewed as a linguistic accomplishment. In U.S. superdiverse learning contexts, English language learners’ (ELLs) science engagement is often left unrecognized because English is deemed as the sole site of scientific sensemaking, and, writing and speech as the main ways of teaching and assessment. This dissertation explores how resettled Burmese refugee youth, who are ELLs and multilinguals, engaged in science learning in RESET, an afterschool program. Combining microethnography with video analysis, I investigated how youth used multiple modes (e.g., language, gesture, posture, proxemics, etc.) in coordinating with one another to accomplish their learning task. I collected two years of data including: field notes, video- and audio-recordings of RESET sessions, digital recordings of participants’ computer use, youth-generated artifacts, and semi-structured interviews. Drawing from principles of video analysis, ethnography, and multimodal analysis, I identified how learners used multimodality in their science engagement and how their strategic use of multimodality afforded productive science engagement. This work impacts education by broadening definitions of learners’ science engagement; compelling educators to reassess current perspectives on engagement and restructure current ways of teaching and assessing learners; suggesting innovations on how researchers study engagement; and contributing to research on the transformation of learning spaces for more equitable instruction both in informal and formal settings. Finally, this adds to the few existing science-focused literature on refugee education and furthers our understanding of how minoritized youth agentively negotiate engagement in learning settings.