• Comprehension of visual primary sources in social studies by adolescent English language learners

      Coccagnia, Jordan (State University of New York College at Fredonia, 2016-05)
      Adolescent English Language Learners (ELLs) in social studies courses face the difficult challenge of making sense of primary sources which are often complex expository texts and embedded in an American culture foreign to many ELLs. One possible method for helping ELLs make sense of complex expository text is with the use of visuals, especially in the form of pictures, film, or graphic organizers. Thus an appropriate research question is, what does research say about the comprehension of visual primary sources in social studies by adolescent ELLs? An exhaustive literature review found 17 related research studies. The synthesis of these studies produced two findings. First is that using a variety of visuals and images in combination with the instructional strategies of direct instruction and interactive conversation appears to assist adolescent ELLs to accomplish several learning goals: activate content background (prior) knowledge, learn discipline-specific vocabulary, and learn discipline-specific content. The second finding is that within the discipline of social studies, adolescent ELLs of all types appear to benefit from teachers using visually focused conversation-based instruction and Internet technologies to facilitate interaction with primary sources, and using multiple forms of historical primary sources (including digitized) to develop students' social studies comprehension through historical thinking, historical imagination, and historical inquiry. These findings are relevant to high school social studies teachers and will be dispersed to them through a professional development project. [from author's abstract]