Sarah Willey wins outstanding mA Thesis Award

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Congratulations are due to Sarah Willey (English M.A., 2023) on being awarded the 2024 Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for the category of Social Sciences, Business, and Education. Her thesis, titled “Student Perceptions of Translanguaging in the College Classroom,” explored how UNC Charlotte students engaged with and learned from “translanguaged” or bilingual texts in a general education course that Sarah designed and taught. Sarah secured approval from the university Institutional Review Board to conduct her study. Her analysis of the many forms of data that she collected while teaching the course revealed that “exposure to translanguaged texts and engagement in metalinguistic discussions helped students build empathy, valorize stigmatized language varieties, and see their own language backgrounds in a new light.” Dr. Liz Miller, Sarah’s thesis advisor, noted that Sarah’s study addressed an important research gap in the field of translanguaging research, currently one of the most popular research areas in applied linguistics, by exploring the impact of translanguaged texts in a university-level course with students who mostly identified as monolingual language users. The UNC Charlotte selection committee indicated that they were “impressed with the quality of the methodology and clarity of writing” in her thesis. Sarah will receive $500 and a plaque of recognition for her achievement. The thesis will also be submitted to the Council of Southern Graduate Schools’ award competition. The project was supported in part by the Tom and Ellen Ruff Graduate Research Scholarship.