Three graduate students receive dissertation grants

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Chaoran Wang, Su Jin Park, and Yoo Young Ahn

Three graduate students in the Literacy, Culture and Language Education Department are the recipients of doctoral dissertation grants from The International Research Foundation for English-Language Education. Su Jin Park received a grant last year, while Chaoran Wang and Yoo Young Ahn were awarded grants this year.

Su Jin Park’s dissertation about an online English learning community of, by and for some Korean immigrant women in the U.S. to unconver how the community not only serves the women as a safe house but also is the embodiment of the women’s investment in learning English. Park called receiving the grant a huge encouragement that helped her have a confidence in her study about a group of people under-interested in the field. “Although I believed my research could be important, I also had some doubts if the topic and subjects, which had been under-explored, can be valued,” Park said. “It was also meaningful that LCLE hadn’t had any TIRF recipient since 2013. I cannot thank enough to my advisor Dr. Beth Samuelson who has provided endless support and actually suggested I apply for the award.”

Chaoran Wang examined an English e-learning program for rural primary school children in southwestern China as part of her dissertation. Because English education has a very large gap between rural and urban schools in China, there is a great shortage of English teachers in rural Chinese primary schools due to economic and geographical reasons. Wang’s research explores how rural, ethnic minority students interact in an English e-learning program built by a leading non-profit organization of the country. “I am glad that people see the value of my research,” Wang remarked. “People care about rural education and wonder how we can make it better and create better learning opportunities for rural children.”

Yoo Young Ahn focused her research on pre-service foreign language teachers and drew from her personal experiences. “The core question emerged from reflecting on my own experience of taking English Teaching Methods course while ago - which I do not think that it did not effectively prepare me for teaching, but I remember the class was about reading literature, memorize different methods and theories from the book. Why was it like that, or had to be that way when it was a ‘teaching method course’?” Ahn said. She sees her dissertation as an exploratory case study, as not much work is done in teacher training setting yet compare to language classrooms in school.

All three are doctoral students of associate professor Beth Lewis Samuelson.