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Research conducted by the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education has helped develop new pedagogies, change the understanding of cultural adaptation and learning, and investigate how first-generation students adapt to the United States.

Here, learn more about our research projects and their long-term effects on education across the United States.

Instructional Conversation

The Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education conducted a randomized controlled trial on the effectiveness on the Instructional Conversation pedagogy on third- and fifth-grade students from 2011-2015. The goal of the project, funded by a $2.9 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences, was to test whether the Instructional Conversation model can improve English language students' and their peers' literacy as measured by standardized reading and other subject area tests.

To achieve this goal, CLASE developed a model of professional development involving 61 schools in 16 districts, with 121 teachers completing the study. Teachers were recruited to join one of three cohorts, with each cohort studied for a period of two years: one training/practice year and one experimental year. Teachers were randomly assigned to the treatment or control condition, with the treatment teachers receiving training and coaching support in the instructional conversation pedagogy. By the end of the project, achievement test data had been collected for 2,351 students, in addition to teacher logs (from both treatment and control teachers), videos of Instructional Conversation lessons, and other assessments of fidelity of implementation and counterfactual evidence.

Overall, the findings from the study indicate that the Instructional Conversation pedagogy improved reading standardized test scores for English language learners in the treatment group 14% above English language learners in the control group. For non-English language learners, the effect was 10% greater for reading. It may be that as a result of this general impact on reading ability, other content areas were also positively affected. Future research is needed to test this hypothesis.

Additional findings:

  • Treatment significantly impacted the entire sample (i.e., English language learners and non-English language learners test scores aggregated) for both reading and social studies outcome measures (p<0.05). For these two outcome measures, the Instructional Conversation intervention produced an approximate 9% and 8% increase in test scores, respectively.
  • When models were disaggregated by English language learning status, improved performance on reading, science, social studies, and mathematics outcomes was only found among English language learners. For English language learners, the intervention resulted in an approximately 15% increase in scores for science (p<0.01) and social studies (p<0.01) and an approximate 14% increase in reading and mathematics (p<0.01).

IC Outcomes bar chart

Taken together, the findings suggest Instructional Conversation can have a positive effect on elementary school students' reading achievement, and this in turn may positively influence achievement in other subject areas. Results discussed here are relevant to educational policy for English language learners and scaling strategies for teaching English language and literacy to elementary school students. Our conclusions should be contrasted with other commonly used approaches for countering learning and teaching gaps in public education.

Implement Instructional Conversation in Your School

We offer a variety of professional development options for schools and districts to assist with implementing the Instructional Conversation pedagogy.

Learn More

Further Reading

  • Vazquez, M., Straubhaar, R., & Mellom, P. (2019). "They wouldn't go to our School": Unpacking the Racialization of Latinx Children through a Civil Rights Lesson in a New South Classroom. Latinos in education.
  • Mellom, P., Hixon, R, Weber, J. McMichael, B. (2018). Case from the field: Supporting instructional conversations through job-embedded coaching. In Zepeda, S. Professional development: What works (third edition). NY, NY: Routledge.
  • Mellom, P. J., Straubhaar, R., Balderas, C., Ariail, M., & Portes, P. R. (2018). "They come with nothing:" How professional development in a culturally responsive pedagogy shapes teacher attitudes towards Latino/a English language learners. Teaching and Teacher Education, 71, 98-107.
  • Portes, P. R., González Canché, M., Boada, D., & Whatley, M. E. (2018). Early evaluation findings from the instructional conversation study: Culturally responsive teaching outcomes for diverse learners in elementary school. American Educational Research Journal, 55(3), 488-531.
  • Straubhaar, R., Mellom, P. J., & Portes, P. R. (2017). Professional Development and Funded Interventions as Means to Improve Latino/a Student Achievement. US Latinization: Education and the New Latino South, 109.
  • Straubhaar, R., Mellom, P. & Portes, P. (2017). Professional development and funded interventions as means to improve latino/a student achievement: A research and development perspective. In U.S. latinization: Education in the new latino south (S. Salas & P. Portes ed.). New York, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Portes, P., Straubhaar, R., & Mellom, P. (2015). An R&D approach to the educational challenges of the growing Latino population in the United States'"New South". GATESOL In Action, 1.

Cultural Adaptation and Development Inventory

The Cultural Adaptation and Development Inventory project integrates empirical research from interrelated social science disciplines to assess general dimensions of individual adaptation across cultures. This project is based on acculturation themes that include cultural sensitivity, efficacy, perceived discrimination, and positive adjustment and was designed to provide a multidimensional assessment for studying diverse groups' adaptation in different settings and climates. The Cultural Adaptation and Development Inventory project is unique as it is based on both dominant and non-dominant perspectives regarding lived transcultural experiences and takes into consideration identity shifts within and between groups.

This project has been over a decade in development and validation with other independent measures for establishing convergent and discriminant purposes. It consists of 30 items grouped into four factors:

  • Inter-cultural stress
  • Effort optimism
  • Positive inter-cultural adaptation
  • Inter-cultural insensitivity

Each item statement presents a view, feeling, or experience related to cultural adaptation to which the individual can respond on a five-point Likert scale. The result provides an economic and valid measure that may be used in understanding the relationships among psychosocial climate, violence, and the effectiveness of educational interventions.

Given institutional as well as national concerns with diversity and the retention of underrepresented students, this inventory may be used as part of a tool-kit for evaluating intercultural adaptation processes and vulnerability to distress. CLASE is currently using this tool and other standard indices of psychological well-being to study group-based differences in cultural adaptation among dominant and non-dominant groups across college campuses.

If you are a student or a researcher and would like to learn more about the Cultural Adaptation and Development Inventory tool, please email Dr. Pedro Portes.

Further Reading

  • Portes, P., González Canché, M., Boada, D., Mira, W., Sandhu, D., & Salas, S. (2016). Assessing migration and adaptation from two or more points of view: Cultural-historical theory and methods. Papeles de Trabajo sobre Cultura, Educación y Desarrollo Humano, 12(2), 1-17.

Longitudinal Immigration and Education Research Study

CLASE's Longitudinal Immigrant and Education Research Study is a multi-year pilot study aimed at providing information about how post-first-generation children of immigrants, now enrolled in elementary school, are adapting to the United States. With this study, CLASE aims to assess immigrant children's socio-cultural and educational adaptation and development, especially with regard to language, culture, and identity.

Little is known about the development of this young, predominantly Latino population. This study will help determine these students' developmental processes and track those processes and other changes over time.

Data Collection

The Longitudinal Immigrant and Education Research Study uses a research design that includes the following measures:

  • The CLASE Longitudinal Immigrant Educational Research Questionnaire (a 68-item scale assessing immigrant children's cultural adaptation with a focus on language development)
  • The Harter's Self-Perception Profile for Children (a 36-item scale measuring children's self-esteem with regard to scholastic, social, and global self-worth)
  • The Psychological Sense of School Membership Scale (11-item scale measuring the extent to which students feel accepted, integrated, and supported in their school environment)
  • The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (a 48-item measure of nonverbal intelligence)


Eligible participants are students (male and female) enrolled in an elementary school whose parents immigrated to the United States primarily from Latin America. Presently, participants are third- to fifth-graders who vary in language proficiency (English or Spanish) and who are asked to complete surveys and interviews outside of school. Participants' families consent to share school records (test scores, grades, and other information). For now, the study is connected to CLASE's ongoing tutoring and mentoring program at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary school, where it is used to help determine participants' cultural adaptation, academic achievement, and other factors in their development.

Request Additional Information

In time, we expect this study to expand to provide a greater understanding of post-first-generation immigrant children. This may allow policy makers, educators, and social service agencies to better design services to meet actual needs. For more information about the CLASE Longitudinal Immigrant and Education Research Study, please email Dr. Pedro Portes.

Research on the Instructional Conversation Pedagogy

Watch a video that explains how collaborative classroom interactions can increase academic achievement for all learners.

The CLASE Goizueta Foundation Graduate Assistants

The Goizueta Foundation Graduate Assistantships are funded through a generous endowment from the Goizueta Foundation and awarded annually through a national call and a competitive selection process. This team of exceptional students represents a cross-section of departments from across the Mary Frances Early College of Education and the University of Georgia. Their work within interdisciplinary collaborative project teams is invaluable to CLASE's efforts to address the institution’s and Center's tripartite mission of research, outreach and instruction.

Note: The Call for Nominations for The Goizueta Foundation Graduate Scholars Fund Assistantship is out in late Fall. We receive applications in early Spring. For more information, please refer to the Call for Nominations announcement.

Portrait of Jean Costa Silva

Jean Costa Silva

Jean Costa Silva is pursuing a PhD in Linguistics. He manages the CLASE social media accounts, provides tech support on the CLASE platform, and carries out research in Higher Education. He also supports institutes and assists with event preparation and post-event responsibilities.

Portrait of Elaine Duong

Elaine Duong

Elaine Duong is a PhD student in educational psychology with an emphasis in quantitative methodology, and is also pursuing a MS in statistics. She studies the impact of the Instructional Conversation pedagogy on students' writing and test scores.

Jacky Fuentes

Jacky Fuentes is a Ph.D. student in the Counseling Psychology program. She is responsible for researching and analyzing the impacts of instructional conversation pedagogy on school culture, climate, and social-emotional learning. In addition, she will be assisting the directors to create new school partnerships that are culturally family centered and attend to social-emotional engagement.

Portrait of Frank Granados-Orozco

Frank Granados-Orozco

Frank Granados-Orozco is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy and supports CLASE's professional development projects by creating graphic representations of school and district data and analyzing teacher survey data.

Portrait of Dominique La Barrie

Dominique La Barrie

Dominique La Barrie is pursuing a doctorate degree in Developmental Psychology. She works to examine how CLASE impacts youth social-emotional state. Broadly her interests are in traumas impacts on families and child emotion regulation.

Portrait of Shannon Pentón Rodríguez

Shannon Pentón Rodríguez

Shannon Pentón Rodríguez is a PhD student in linguistics. She researches and analyzes data surrounding the implementation of Instructional Conversations in schools, particularly focusing on the impact of task cards on student autonomy. She also provides administrative and logistical support for the Instructional Conversation institutes.

Our Undergraduate Team

Portrait of Sienna Joseph

Sienna Joseph

Sienna Joseph is an Undergraduate Assistant majoring in Criminal Justice with a Sociology minor. Along with being an office assistant, she aids the CLASE team in event logistics and coordination.

Portrait of Aaron Mathauer

Aaron Mathauer

Aaron Mathauer is an undergraduate student majoring in Linguistics and Cognitive Sciences. He supports CLASE's research projects in Linguistics and Instructional Conversation pedagogy through the University's CURO scholars program.

Portrait of Derek Walker

Derek Walker

Derek Walker is an undergraduate student majoring in Entertainment and Media Studies with a Film Studies and Theatre minor. He edits and manages CLASE video content.

Portrait of Lauryn Waters

Lauryn Waters

Lauryn Waters is an undergraduate student conducting research with CLASE through the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO). Her primary work has included research about the Instructional Conversation pedagogy and the elements that are involved in the application of this teaching method.

Our Instructional Coaches

Portrait of Marni Carter

Marni Carter

Marni Carter is a CLASE Coach. She is a veteran teacher and instructional coach. She taught 3rd-8th in public and private schools. Marni mainly supports Gwinnett County Schools and is a team member supporting CLASE Institutes, Renewals, Webinars, and On-Line Coaching.

Portrait of Dianne Hall

Dianne Hall

Dianne Hall is a CLASE Instructional Coach. She is a retired Gwinnett County teacher. She has taught grades 1-8 in Tennessee and Georgia. She has been with CLASE since 2012. Her duties include, online coaching support, teacher observations, Webinars, lesson planning approval and support, along with Learning Labs in various counties. Dianne also participates in the CLASE training institutes and Renewals.

Portrait of Darlene Hudson

Darlene Hudson

Darlene Hudson is the newest member of the CLASE coaching team. She is a recently retired educator and administrator with 31 years’ experience in elementary and middle school. She experienced first-hand the positive impact that the CLASE pedagogy had on all students in two elementary schools in which she served as principal. Darlene supports Habersham County Schools and is a team member supporting CLASE Institutes, Renewals, Webinars, and On-line Coaching.

Portrait of Beth Pridgen

Beth Pridgen

Elizabeth (Beth) Pridgen is a retired educator and administrator with 30 years’ experience in upper elementary and middle school. She joined the CLASE team in 2019 as an Instructional Coach providing support for teachers both in and out of the classroom. She also facilitates during training institutes.

Research Posters

A Social Network Analysis

A Social Network Analysis

Download a research poster by Diego A. Boada: A Social Network Analysis of an Online Teacher Community of Practice: A Mixed Methods Study.

Improving Reading Achievement

Improving Reading Achievement

Download a research poster by Rebecca K. Hixon: Improving Reading Achievement of ELLs One Conversation at a Time: Implementation of the IC Model in Upper Elementary School Classrooms.

The impact of Instructional Conversation

The impact of Instructional Conversation

Download a research poster by Ryan Marinos, Paula Mellom and Chandler Huddleston: the Impact of the IC on Academic Language Usage.

Student Motivation

Student Motivation

Download a research poster by Madeline Jones and Paula Mellom: IC/JPA Teacher Talk Time and Student Motivation: The Impact of Teacher Behavior on Student Motivation.

Instructional Conversation and Writing

Instructional Conversation and Writing

Download a research poster by Elaine Duong and Allan Cohen