Date of Award

Spring 1-14-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Guillermo Solano-Flores

Second Advisor

Lucinda Soltero-Gonzalez

Third Advisor

Kathy Escamilla

Fourth Advisor

Maria Araceli Ruiz-Primo

Fifth Advisor

Karen Tracy


This exploratory study investigated issues that emerge from the use of informal formative assessment (IFA) to address science academic language (SAL) of emergent bilinguals (EBs) in science classrooms. It addressed for the first time IFA considering the needs of EBs in classrooms and their process of SAL development. This study highlighted the need for continuing investigating IFA under this perspective to obtain a better understanding of how to serve EBs in content classrooms.

Participants were four teachers with different backgrounds and 12 of their EB students. Data sources were classroom videos and participants’ interviews. Data sources were segmented, organized, and codified to identify characteristics of IFA practices relevant to EBs’ SAL development. These characteristics included: IFA activities, sampling procedures, and SAL features addressed. Narratives of teachers’ practices were developed. Frequencies of codes were calculated. Patterns in practices were identified.

Results showed that teachers engaged in IFA that could be beneficial for EB students’ SAL development. They also showed that they had opportunities to improve these practices. Teachers used IFA to address EBs’ SAL in most of the instructional events. Teachers clarified how SAL would be used, gathered information about SAL skills, and acted on this information. However, they mainly focused on linguistic skills and on making meaning through these skills. In most classrooms, EBs participated in IFA for SAL more frequently than the research expected.