Written by Dylan Allen

The student panel “Enhancing Graduate Students’ Knowledge and Skills Through Project English and Literacy Acquisition—Validation (ELLA-V)” was the first graduate student research panel hosted by the Center for Research & Development in Dual Language & Literacy Acquisition (CRDLLA). It was held on October 25, 2017 at Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center.

Now in its final year, ELLA-V is targeted to validate instructional and curricular components of a language and literacy intervention for kindergarten through third-grade English learners. The research project has given the graduate students room to grow personally and professionally during the five years it has been conducted.

“It has impacted tremendously my personal, academic, and professional growth,” Laura Cajiao-Wingenbach said. She has served as a graduate assistant, observation coordinator, and now as the lead project coordinator with ELLA-V. “This experience gave me a holistic perspective about data collection.”

“Prior to this experience, I believed I knew what ‘research’ entailed. I was quickly exposed to the fact that real, substantial research requires an enormous amount of collaboration, organization, forethought, and attention to detail. Before any of the findings can be discussed and dissected, massive amounts of work occurs.”
Scott Ireland

Graduate Assistant

ELLA-V has provided opportunities for the students to develop mentoring relationships with the project’s principal investigators, including Dr. Rafael Lara-Alecio, Regents Professor; Dr. Beverly J. Irby, College of Education & Human Development Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; and Dr. Fuhui Tong, associate professor of bilingual education.

“The impact the principal investigators have had on us is indescribable,” said Nariman Eljaouhari, an ELLA-V graduate assistant. “They’re always appreciating the work we do and taking the time out of their busy schedules to check in on us.”

Graduate assistant Roya Pashmforoosh appreciated the diversity she’s found working on the project. “This work place has a number of benefits, including improved understanding of different cultures, enhanced creativity and problem-solving ability in teams, and better use of talent,” she said.