OSU Assistant Professor’s Dissertation Named Best by Bilingual Education Association


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Kathryn McIntosh Ciechanowski, an assistant professor of teacher education at Oregon State University, was awarded first place in the National Association of Bilingual Education’s outstanding dissertation competition for 2006.

Ciechanowski, whose focus is on English as a Second Language and bilingual and literacy education, will be recognized at the association’s 36th annual conference Feb. 7-10 in San Jose, Calif.

“It is unbelievable and stunning,” said Ciechanowski, who defended her dissertation last July while getting her doctorate in language, literacy and culture at University of Michigan. She joined the OSU faculty in August 2006.

The competition was for dissertations defended between June 1, 2003, and Aug. 1, 2006.

Her dissertation, “The Everyday Meets the Academic: How Bilingual Latino/a Third Graders Use Sociocultural Resources to Learn in Science and Social Studies,” was based on an eight-month study of a bilingual classroom in Detroit.

“I took a theoretical approach,” Ciechanowski said. “It wasn’t a large sample, but I was looking at the nature of how the students read.”

In the study, Ciechanowski analyzed the demands of reading science and social studies textbooks, studied what knowledge students brought into the classroom via pop culture, family resources and other ways, and examined the bilingual component of learning in both Spanish and English.

“Knowing two languages can be a good resource, but scientific language is pretty complex in two different languages,” she said.

In announcing the award, the selection committee stated that Ciechanowski’s dissertation “was very impressive, complex in design and important in terms of impact on the field.”

“It’s great because people are saying your work is important and it matters,” Ciechanowski said, “not only as a contribution to the field, but also in children’s education.”

The National Association for Bilingual Education is the only professional organization at the national level wholly devoted to representing both English language learners and bilingual education professionals.