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Loyola Researchers Receive Spencer Grant: Supporting English Learners and Immigrant-Origin Youth and Families


The School of Education is excited to announce that Dr. Amy Heineke and Dr. Liz Vera were award a grant from the Spencer Foundation. The grant is titled: English Learner and Immigrant-Origin Youth and Families: A Comparative Case Study of Learning Experiences During and Following the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Their research investigates the experiences of English learner (EL) and immigrant-origin youth and families during and following pandemic-related distance learning. This 2-phase comparative case study involves three Midwestern schools in rural, suburban, and urban contexts spanning birth through grade 8. Phase 1 focuses on teaching and learning during the pandemic, specifically probing the perspectives and experiences of EL and immigrant-origin children and families around the maneuver to-home teaching and learning. Phase 2 follows focal families back to school, as well as brings in educators’ perspectives, to understand the work being done by all stakeholders to mediate learning and language development. Drawing from interviews, observations, and documents, they will utilize the prism model of bilingual learners (Collier & Thomas, 2007) and funds of knowledge (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & González, 1992) to understand the multifaceted experiences embedded in homes and schools, including social-emotional, linguistic, cognitive, and academic learning and development. With the ultimate goal of promoting high-quality, equitable education for ELs and immigrant-origin children and families that builds from students’ strengths and families’ resources, they plan to use findings to develop a framework for school stakeholders to support these sub-groups in post-pandemic educational practice.  

Their project will extend over three years and will be for a total of $50,000 in funding. Please feel free to contact them with questions about their research.