I view research as a collaborative process, which should have real-world implications, so most of my projects are developed in partnership with local schools, families, teachers, and students. Here is a brief review of my main areas of research (the links to the right, under RESEARCH AREAS, provide more detail and a list of related publications).
Language Policy & Planning: In this area, I am especially interested in the development of language immersion schooling in the Midwestern United States. Language immersion schools provide content-material instruction in a non-native language, often to diverse students from various ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. Three core goals of language immersion schooling are: multilingualism, high academic achievement, and intercultural competence (Tedick, Christian, & Fortune, 2011). Some of my research questions in this area include: What are the politics of developing language immersion schools? How do immigrant families make choices for language immersion schools?
Educational Policy Implementation: Typically, studies of educational policy focus on measuring the effects of a policy. However, I am interested in the process of a policy: how does a legislation, a piece of writing, or a program become something? I gather that important, but often missed, factors are the ultimate “users” of a policy: teachers, parents, and students, for example. Some of my research questions in this area include: How does public discourse shape the implementation of new policies? How do accountability policies interact with local level policies? How do elementary-aged children understand their schools’ policies?
Immigrant Family Integration: When families settle in a new country, children help with families’ integration processes. As they attend school, learn English, and become acquainted with a new culture, youth may begin to translate and interrupt for their family members: they become culture and language brokers. At the same time, youth often struggle with identity questions, living in between many places, people, and ways of being. My research questions in this area include: How does language brokering shape children’s academic achievement? How does language brokering change over the years? What is the nature of immigrant youth identity work, especially in school spaces?
Program Evaluation: I have also conducted program evaluations for non-profit organizations, universities, and K-12 school districts, examining questions of school climate, leadership, and service-learning. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, I provide analyses to stakeholders, so they may understand the impact of their projects, as well as the processes of their projects’ implementation. Ultimately, I hope that organizations will use the results of the evaluations to scale-up effective programs, or appropriately change ineffective ones.