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Research Axes

The Doctoral Training Unit CALIDIE is organised in three thematic clusters:

1. Language Practices 

The first research axis examines multilingualism and student learning from a sociocultural perspective. We see learning as anchored in situated, semiotic and interactive practice and embedded in social, cultural, institutional, and historical contexts. To understand multilingualism, learning and knowledge construction, we examine the role of participation in social interactions and culturally organized activities. Our axis focuses on language practices and centers around two main questions: In which ways do multilingual practices contribute to building knowledge, expertise, and recognition in and across formal, informal and non-formal education settings? How can knowledge about learners’ multilingual practices be used more effectively to enhance learning?

2. Language Learning and Achievement

The second research axis shifts the focus from the practices to the processes of language acquisition, as well as examining language learning outcomes (language achievement/proficiency), and the assessment of such outcomes. Language learning in multilingual contexts involves the acquisition of several languages or language varieties as second or third languages in different social and institutional contexts. While this DTU investigates as its main question how multilingualism affects student learning and how it can be transformed into a resource for educational success, this axis focuses more specifically on language and literacy development throughout schooling as well as on achievement and the assessment of achievement. We will ask: How do multilingual pupils develop oral and written language structures in home and school languages throughout schooling? How can we enhance the language skills of multilingual preschool children in specific educational interventions? Can we identify classrooms that perform systematically above the statistical expectation? How can we optimize the (computer-based) assessment of language learning outcomes in multilingual students through developing quantitative state-of-the-art measurement instruments that incorporate the use of behavioural data in the assessment process?

3. Language and STEM Learning

The third research axis shifts the focus from the language itself to the way language shapes the acquisition of (pre-)mathematical and scientific literacy in the so-called STEM branches (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Although typical school curricula systematically deploy language and STEM instruction as two distinct and separate fields of instruction, evidence from psychology and cognitive neuroscience indeed consistently indicates that language plays a critical role during numeracy and scientific literacy acquisition. In the third research axis of CALIDIE, we will thus predominantly adopt a cognitive psychological perspective in order to examine how STEM-learning is shaped by language in multilingual learning contexts. Concrete research questions within this strand will be: How do young children’s (multi-lingual) language profiles affect numeracy acquisition? How does the language of instruction influence mathematical and scientific literacy of students studying in secondary schools with multilingual modes of instruction? Which facets of numerical, mathematical, and scientific skills acquisition are facilitated or hindered by learners’ multilingual profiles and/or by multilingual instruction methods? Is there a linear relationship between language proficiency and proficiency in STEM subjects or is this relationship discontinuous with identifiable threshold effects?