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CLASE Research

Research projects undertaken by the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education.

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.
  • Mellom, P.J., Hixon, R.K., Weber, J.P. (2019). With a little help from my friends: Conversation- based instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) classrooms. Teachers College Press: NY.
  • Gokee, R. K. (2017). Improving Reading Achievement of ELLs One Conversation at a Time: Implementation of the IC Model in Upper Elementary School Classrooms: Voices from the Field (Doctoral dissertation, University of Georgia).
  • Beltran, D. A. B. (2018). A social network analysis of an online teacher community of practice: a mixed methods study (Doctoral dissertation, University of Georgia).

More Research on Instructional Conversations

Download our Instructional Conversations Literature List for additional research supporting Instructional Conversations.

IC Literature List (PDF)

Video: Research on the Instructional Conversation Pedagogy

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

Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Associates

Shannon Rodríguez

Shannon Rodríguez is a postdoctoral research and teaching associate with CLASE. She has been with CLASE since 2016 when she began as a graduate assistant. She holds a doctorate in Linguistics from the University of Georgia (2022), with an emphasis on sociolinguistics and the intersections of language, race, ethnicity, and identity, specifically looking at Latino English in Georgia.

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 .

Kimberly Resendiz Chavez

Kimberly Resendiz Chavez is a first year Ph.D. student in the School Psychology program. She aids CLASE with administrative tasks for the Instructional Conversation institute. Her research interests include bilingual language development and its effects on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis as well as access to resources for bilingual students in special education.

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.

Frank Granados-Orozco

Frank Granados-Orozco is pursuing a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a Master’s Degree in Music. As a Graduate Research Assistant in CLASE, he is interested in the intersection between Philosophy for Children (P4C) and Instructional Conversation Pedagogy (IC). He focuses on educational environments that promote the development and acquisition of reasoning and questioning skills. He is involved in research and professional development projects with CLASE.

Diego Morgado Innocencio

Diego Morgado Innocencio is a first year student at the Learning, Design and Technology M.Ed. program. He works at CLASE as a graduate assistant providing tech support, and works on different projects related to audio-visual.

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.

Lucia Quezada

Lucia Quezada is a Ph.D. student in the Counseling Psychology program at UGA. She assists CLASE through research support that informs professional development and outreach initiatives for students and educators.

Jean Costa Silva

Jean Costa Silva is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Linguistics. Jean manages all CLASE social media channels, provides tech support on the CLASE platform and webinars, and is in charge of the Instructional Conversation Newsletter. He also carries out research on the impact of ICs in Higher Education.

Our Undergraduate Team

Sunny Mathauer

Sunny Mathauer is an undergraduate student majoring in Linguistics and International Affairs. They support CLASE’s research projects in Linguistics and Instructional Conversation pedagogy through the University’s CURO scholars program.

Leslie Velasquez

Leslie Velasquez is an undergraduate student majoring in Health Promotion and pursuing an MPH in epidemiology. She supports CLASE’s outreach mission through communication channels such as social media and platform management.

Our Instructional Coaches

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.

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.

Darlene Hudson

Darlene Hudson is a CLASE Instructional Coach and the Assistant Principal at the Habersham County Ninth Grade Academy. This is her 33rd year in education with the majority of that time spent as an administrator in Habersham County at the elementary school level. She works with the CLASE team to help teachers and administrators implement the pedagogy in their own classrooms and schools.

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.

Shawn Thomas

Shawn Thomas is the newest member of the CLASE coaching team. She is a Lead ESOL Teacher in Gwinnett County Public Schools. She has 25 years of experience in the classroom, teaching Kindergarten, Second Grade, Third Grade, and ESOL throughout her career. She experienced first-hand the positive impact that the CLASE pedagogy had on students in all settings, but particularly for newcomers. Shawn supports Gwinnett County Public Schools and is a team member supporting CLASE Institutes, Renewals, Webinars, and On-line Coaching.

Cindy Tu

Cindy Tu is a CLASE Coach with 29 years of experience in education. One of her deepest transformations as an educator was witnessing first-hand the impact of the Instructional Conversation pedagogy and the joy it brings to the learning environment. This experience has led her to join the CLASE Team to support teachers with IC implementation.

Research Posters

A Social Network AnalysisDownload a research poster by Diego A. Boada: A Social Network Analysis of an Online Teacher Community of Practice: A Mixed Methods Study.
Improving Reading AchievementDownload 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 ConversationDownload a research poster by Ryan Marinos, Paula Mellom, and Chandler Huddleston: the Impact of the IC on Academic Language Usage.
Student MotivationDownload 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 WritingDownload a research poster by Elaine Duong and Allan Cohen
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