Doctoral Candidate Patrick Rosenburg Named Inaugural Recipient of Ann S. Ferren Research Fund in Education Award

Patrick Rosenburg (EdD candidate in Language & Literacy) has been named the inaugural recipient of Ann S. Ferren Research Fund in Education Award. The Ferren Research Fund provides support for the research efforts of a graduate student pursuing a doctoral degree in education. Awards are given to students nearing completion of their dissertation, who are pursuing the goal of publishing a joint scholarly article or presenting at a conference under the guidance of a faculty mentor, and with a preference for students focusing on secondary education curriculum and instruction.

Mr. Rosenburg’s research examines how Deaf students learn to read, with a specific focus on “Deaf Children who are perceiving ASL texts.” An ASL text is a published film of a literary work narrated in ASL.

Mr Rosenburg explains that his work is “in line with New Literacies in that text can no longer be limited to what is traditionally understood by many.” He continues, “with advanced technology, we have been able to document different literary texts in ASL – poems, fiction stories, informational texts – however, little is known about ASL-text comprehension as higher-level skills in Deaf children as there is no normed assessment instrument that specifically taps into Deaf children’s higher-level comprehension skills in ASL. I developed a computer-based assessment instrument that measures Deaf children’s literal comprehension and inferential comprehension in ASL.” Mr. Rosenburg received support from his former adviser Dr. Hoffmeister in the process who led the development of a new battery of tests called American Sign Language Assessment Instrument (ASLAI). 

“Increasingly, in the classroom and even in the social context we see a lot of use of ASL videos that are disseminated on social media and twitter, there’s a lot of information disseminated that way. So, I was curious as to what happens to Deaf children who are perceiving ASL texts and whether or not they understand ASL stories and if there are any specific skills that are required to take in that text visually. So, my dissertation is really an exploration of this new arena as it relates to comprehension skills through ASL text.”

The paper Mr. Rosenburg has proposed to write with the support of this award is important and timely in addressing the need for assessments of higher-level comprehension skills in older Deaf children. “Patrick’s work is critical to our understanding of how Deaf students learn to read as ASL-English bilingual learners,” comments Dr. Amy Lieberman, Mr. Rosenburg’s graduate advisor at BU Wheelock. “By expanding our definition of “text” to include rich ASL narratives, Patrick’s study illustrates that students with rich text comprehension in ASL have higher English reading scores”

 “This work is important for theories of reading development, but also has very direct implications for teachers working with Deaf students as they learn to read,” continues Dr. Lieberman. “He demonstrates that a strong foundation in rich, academic ASL is strongly associated with better reading outcomes. I am excited to continue working with Patrick on this project and am thrilled that, with the support of the Ann Ferren award, he will have the opportunity to share this work with a wider audience.”

“It has been a pleasure working with Patrick” says Dr. Naomi Caselli, one of Mr. Rosenburg’s dissertation readers. “There are currently no ASL tests that examine complex language skills like drawing inferences about narrative and informative texts in ASL. His dissertation will fill this gap, and help us understand the skills that are necessary to understand academic ASL, and whether children leverage during English text comprehension. As Patrick nears completion of his doctorate training, he has become one of a very small number of deaf scholars in the world.”

Dean Ad Interim David Chard also offered his congratulations, citing “this honor of being the inaugural recipient of this award.”

We’re proud to call Patrick Rosenburg a member of our community and we’re excited to see what the future holds for him and his groundbreaking work.

Grace Hagerty