Skip to Main Content
COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
UMBC campuses are closed, but courses are now online and employees are working remotely.

Language and Literacy in Education Research Cluster

Language and literacy in education is a focal area of research among faculty in the UMBC Department of Education.  While representing a spectrum of topics and theoretical orientations to language and literacy, faculty researchers in the cluster share a commitment to generating knowledge about language and literacy development and practices that foster equitable educational and social opportunities for learners of diverse backgrounds. Following from this, cluster members are also actively engaged with how research can inform classroom practice, teacher education, policy, and advocacy.



Faculty researchers investigate language and literacy in education from multiple vantage points, and they draw upon an array of methods and approaches such as action research, case studies, classroom observation, content analysis, corpus linguistics, (critical) discourse analysis, (critical) ethnography, experimental and quasi-experimental design, grounded theory, interpretive policy analysis, interviewing/focus groups, linguistic landscape analysis, narrative methods (e.g., poetic inquiry and life history), nexus analysis, phenomenology, reflective practitioner research, and survey research.  The intellectual traditions in which cluster members work include constructivism, critical digital literacy, critical race theory/critical whiteness studies, interpretivism, multiliteracies, new literacies studies, poststructuralism, social constructionism, (critical) sociocultural theory, task-based language teaching, and translanguaging.


Keisha Allen

Culturally responsive education, critical multicultural teacher education, urban education, qualitative research methods


Zane L. Berge

Training systems, distance education, computer-mediated communication


Francis M. Hult

Discourse studies, educational linguistics, ethnography, language policy and planning, linguistic landscapes, multilingual education, nexus analysis, sociolinguistics, sustainability, and transdisciplinarity


Teresa Irish

Science education, STEM education with an emphasis on the interdisciplinary nature of STEM education, professional learning communities, mixed methods and quantitative analysis


Jiyoon Lee

Learner-centered assessment, language assessment literacy, second language acquisition, teacher education, surveys, interviews, thematic analysis, mixed methods, quasi-experimental design, quantitative research methods


Jennifer Mata-McMahon

Early childhood education; bilingual education; translanguaging; teacher preparation for urban settings; secular spirituality; children’s spirituality; qualitative and mixed research methods, including grounded theory, phenomenological and survey-based designs.


Kindel Nash

Language, literacy, and culture in early childhood; teacher preparation for urban contexts; critical race theory; critical whiteness studies; and critical sociocultural theory; critical ethnographic, phenomenological, and narrative/poetic methods of qualitative research


Christopher Rakes

Mathematics education, STEAM education, scientific inquiry in mathematics, education technology, teacher knowledge, teacher preparation and professional development, curriculum development and analysis, culturally responsive mathematics teaching, mixed methods research design, structural equation modeling, multilevel modeling, meta-analysis and systematic review


Mavis Sanders

School, family and community engagement; education reform and improvement; African American student achievement; qualitative research methods


Shannon Sauro

Computer-assisted language learning, fanfiction and fan practices, language learning in the digital wilds, task-based language teaching, telecollaboration/virtual exchange


Eugene C. Schaffer

Mentoring, school effectiveness, professional development schools, at risk students


Sarah J. Shin

Bilingualism, heritage language education, language policy, TESOL methodology, second language writing, academic language



Language, Literacy, and Culture Doctoral Program

Students interested in doctoral study on topics related to language and literacy in education can read more about the Language, Literacy, and Culture doctoral program at UMBC.  Individual faculty members also welcome inquiries to discuss prospective students’ research topics.