Research News

UW-Madison’s Hamman receives a prestigious Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellowship

April 03, 2017

UW-Madison’s Laura Hamman has been awarded a Dissertation Fellowship from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Hamman, a doctoral candidate with the School of Education’s No. 1-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction, is one of just 10 students from across the nation awarded this honor in 2017.

She is specializing in English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual education.

Phi Kappa Phi promotes itself as the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines.

According to the Phi Kappa Phi website, Hamman’s research is titled, “Bilingualism for All?: Interrogating Language and Equity in Dual Language Immersion.”

The website explains: “Dual language immersion (DLI) programs have spread across the nation, lauded for promoting the academic achievement of the growing immigrant population while also providing native English-speaking students with the opportunity to learn a second language. Despite widespread popularity, some scholars have begun to caution that the uncritical expansion of DLI might actually be reinforcing, not reframing, social inequities. Moreover, many linguists argue that the model’s strict language separation does not accurately represent the dynamic nature of bilingualism. Few studies have looked across schools within the same district to identify factors that differentially shape how students engage with and make sense of bilingualism.”

The preview of Hamman’s research continues: “Taking into account the larger sociopolitical context and acknowledging student agency, my comparative ethnographic study of two dual language classrooms explores how students discursively negotiate bilingual identities across an academic year, and how these practices shape their learning and emerging bilingualism. These questions are explored through a multiphase research design that interrogates ideological discourses and classroom language practices through interviews with teachers and administrators, state and district policy analysis, videoed classroom observations, and artifact-mediated student focus groups. This study will contribute to more equitable dual language policies, practices, and pedagogies by providing insight into the multiple, interrelated factors that shape outcomes in bilingual programs and by proposing a pathway for re-envisioning language practices and pedagogies in DLI classrooms.”

The Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellowship recipients were selected based on a number of criteria including how the fellowship will contribute to the completion of the dissertation, the significance of original research, and endorsement by the dissertation chair. Each fellow will receive $10,000 to apply toward 12 months of dissertation writing.

 Established in 2014, the Dissertation Fellowship Program allocates $100,000 annually in support of active Phi Kappa Phi members. In addition to these fellowships, the Society awards $1.4 million each biennium to qualifying students and members through study abroad grants, graduate fellowships, funding for post-baccalaureate development, member and chapter awards, and grants for local, national and international literacy initiatives.

 To learn more about the Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellowship Program and this year’s recipients, visit