Priority Grants Research Fund

Abstracts of Priority Research Project Funded for FY 2016

Cara Gormally
Science, Mathematics and Technology
Developing Positive Attitudes toward Science in University Lab
Terra Edwards
Linguistics
Pro-Tactile American Sign Language
Deborah Chen Pichler
Mary Thumann
Linguistics
L2 Acquisition of ASL in M1 and M2 Contexts

NEW GRANTS

Developing Positive Attitudes toward Science in University Lab

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Cara Gormally, Assistant Professor
Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology, Gallaudet University

Regardless of career direction, our graduates face challenging decisions related to science. Yet most Gallaudet students, as at other colleges, take only one science course. Lab class is particularly important: there, students see and actually do science themselves. Research shows that students benefit from inquiry- based labs. In inquiry-based labs, students develop and conduct their own experiments. Students gain science literacy, knowledge, and reasoning. In addition to knowledge, however, students must develop positive attitudes toward science if we expect them to engage with scientific issues beyond the classroom. We know that students’ attitudes toward science are stronger predictors of future engagement with science than content knowledge. This project’s goal is to investigate how inquiry-based learning impacts our students’ attitudes toward science and their science literacy development. The study focuses on Deaf and hard-of-hearing students’ experiences in inquiry-based labs, because few studies about inquiry-based learning have disaggregated demographics to know if results can be generalized across courses, institutions, or diverse student populations. The best opportunity to do this is here at Gallaudet. The project uses longitudinal comparative data from both traditional stepwise and inquiry-based labs, including surveys, quantitative assessments, and interviews. This knowledge is critical to support student engagement in science learning.

Pro-Tactile American Sign Language

Principal Investigator:
Terra Edwards, Assistant Professor
Department of Linguistics, Gallaudet University

This study examines effects of the pro-tactile movement on language and embodiment among DeafBlind people at Gallaudet. Using anthropological, linguistic, and architectural methods, we ask how collective shifts in sensory orientation affect the deictic, phonological, and semantic systems of American Sign Language. Prior research about DeafBlind people has focused on teaching and counseling methods, variation in human interaction, and practical instruction for sign language interpreters. Our research focuses instead on how DeafBlind people converge on common orientation schemes by interacting with, and talking about, their environment, and how their language is thereby affected. In order to examine this process, we have designed three activities for participants, each of which will elicit particular linguistic forms. Activities include map-making, direction-giving, and object-describing. We will also employ anthropological methods of ethnographic observation at pro-tacitle events on campus and in the surrounding area. The results of this research will contribute to: (1) current debates in anthropology, pyschology, and linguistics about the emergence and development of signed languages; (2) current debates in deaf studies about language, the body, and the built environment; and (3) linguistic anthropological understandings of how language, space, and the body are mutually constituted in interaction.

L2 Acquisition of ASL in M1 and M2 Contexts

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Deborah Chen Pichler, Professor
Dr. Mary Thumann, Associate Professor
Department of Linguistics, Gallaudet University

We are proposing a longitudinal study of the acquisition of ASL as a second language, including both hearing (M1) and Deaf (M2) learners. There has recently been a surge in research interest on the acquisition of sign language as a second language. However, the data from recent publications come from sign-naïve subjects who are not actually learning a sign language. Furthermore, little research exists on L2 sign acquisition by Deaf learners who have already acquired an L1 sign language. The proposed study follows actual M1 and M2 L2 learners before and after their first intensive ASL class, documenting their lexical, phonological and syntactic development at the very beginning stages of L2 acquisition of ASL. We will run a small battery of linguistic tests on students just prior to, and at the end of 2-week summer PST courses held at Gallaudet. This will yield a modest body of data from which we can test claims from the recent L2 (sign and spoken) literature, and eventually compare against sign acquisition patterns from M1L2 learners, to be collected the following summer. Analysis of these data will allow exploration of the role of modality in L2 learning for both experienced and inexperienced signers, and pedagogical implications for different types of learners (M1F vs. M2; spoken language L2 vs. sign language L2).


[Last modified: 2015.10.28 08:14:44. by Brian Showalter]

DISCLAIMER: This website contains documents with terms that may be considered by today's reader as outdated and even offensive. For example, the term "hearing impairment" is sometimes used as a category for levels of hearing loss, such as hard of hearing and deaf. Some people now see cultural identification and communication preference as defining characteristics behind terms such as hard of hearing and deaf, and they do not favor terms conveying medical distinctions and loss. Yet we recognize that removing and changing terms may alter the precise meaning of the scientific author. A solution may be found by expanding the scope of future research to include non-medical perspectives.
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