Building Bridges of Cultural Understanding Across Borders

By: Micki Abercrombie-Donahue  

This grounded theory ethnographic study explored the implementation of two school district dual-immersion programs within an immigrant and refugee community in California. The study explored administrator, teacher, and parent perceptions of two dual-immersion programs designed to help students to develop multilingualism, multi-literacy, and multicultural competence. The researchers identified the key factors that contributed to the development of cultural and linguistic competence and equality of educational opportunity within districts with high concentrations of culturally and linguistically diverse Developing Language Learners (DLL). The study occurred in two school districts with dual-immersion programs serving students in the central valley of California. Educators within research site one served 3,034 students with a 98% Latinx student population (California Department of Education, 2016). Educators in research site two served 992 students with a 91% Latinx student population. This mixed methods ethnographic study explored three major research questions: 1) What are the key components of effective dual-immersion programs? 2) What are the mechanisms used to foster cultural and linguistic competence in dual-immersion programs? 3) What is the role of parental involvement in dual-immersion program improvement? The researchers collected data from student ELPAC and CAASPP test scores and identified areas of strength and weakness in both programs. Utilizing surveys and semi-structured interviews to explore perceptions of the current programs, the researchers identified key areas for improvement. The researchers used the results to create targeted professional development activities that can help the audience to advocate for educational equity, strong linguistic and cultural competence, social justice, and equity.

Dual-Immersion, Multilingualism, Refugees
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Micki Abercrombie-Donahue

Dr. Micki Abercrombie-Donahue holds an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Montana State University-Bozeman. At Point Loma Nazarene University she serves as an Assistant Professor of Education. She teaches Foundations of Education, Language Acquisition, Literacy, Multicultural Education, and Social Justice. Micki has facilitated professional development opportunities for educators working in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms in Montana, Washington, and California. Micki continues to research the role of language, culture, and identity in shaping student educational experiences in schools. Her work has been used by Montana and other states to inform the implementation of instructional models that promote equality of educational opportunities for all students.