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Education faculty receives award for English and bilingual learning research

Closeup of Yuliya Ardasheva
Yuliya Ardasheva

Yuliya Ardasheva, a faculty member at Washington State University Tri‑Cities, has received one of two national Mid‑Career Awards from the American Educational Research Association’s Second Language Research Special Interest Group.

Ardasheva is an associate professor within the College of Education, where she focuses her research on English/Bilingual learners’ language and academic development. The awards committee were impressed with Ardasheva’s “robust and coherent research portfolio.”

It’s research that, for Ardasheva, hits close to home. She said she came to the United States at 27 years old, “not speaking a single word of English,” having already earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in her native language. She planned on earning her Ph.D. in the United States.

“I originally got interested in second language development because I have an understanding what individual students of different ages may need to build on their strengths and what they may need to capitalize on what they already know in their native languages,” she said.

This line of research began with Ardasheva’s dissertation and her first externally funded project as a postdoctoral student at the University of Louisville. Her role was to develop literacy supports at a portable planetarium for middle and high school students, all part of a Newcomer Academy in Louisville. They spoke 25 primary languages and most of them were refugees from war or conflict zones. As a result, most had interrupted schooling.

“The Academy students only had one year to gain enough English language and content knowledge to integrate the following year into regular education schools, where the majority of teachers typically have no language support preparation,” Ardasheva said.

Her focus was on developing pre- and post-instructional literacy activities aligned with the planetarium experiences. This was to improve students’ science vocabulary knowledge, learning strategy use, oral and reading comprehension. Ultimately, this would allow for building science background knowledge and science concept elaboration.

Since, Ardasheva has published 38 peer-reviewed articles and six book chapters on this and other topics and presented her work at more than 70 national and international conferences.

While the committee cited Ardasheva’s endeavors to advance the field as “evident in (her) prolific and high‑quality publications” and having made a “significant contribution,” Ardasheva herself said the teacher learning and development area of her research is still shaping up.

This work is, in part, supported by a current $2.3 million U.S. Department of Education professional development grant, as well as a recently completed Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Endowment Grant.

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