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Immigration Policies and Practices

Since my arrival in Georgia in 2008, I have been involved in collaborative  research and outreach initiatives that aim to validate the voices of bilingual immigrant students in research, curriculum and outreach efforts. As part of a three-year qualitative study at a local middle school (2008-2011), I combined two areas of research, performance pedagogy and SFL 

genre-based pedagogy, in ways that encouraged students to identify burning social issues, research and write about them and disseminate their findings to local communities. With five Latina middle school English Learners (ELs) and their English teacher, I co-presented findings about their Youth Participatory Action Research at a Women and Girls Conference and at a Diversity Council Seminar at UGA in fall and spring 2011. My research team also published and presented rigorous papers on this collaborative work (e.g. Harman et al, 2013 Harman & Dobai-Varga, 2012).

In 2009 I also developed an interdisciplinary research alliance with professors from the Elementary and Social Studies department in the College of Education. Together we rganized a colloquium for the American Education Research Association AERA in 2011 that focused on anti immigration policies and practices in the Southeast, and we guest edited a special issue on the same issues for International Journal of Multicultural Education (Allexsaht-Snider, Buxton & Harman, fall 2012).  In fall 2011 course on immigration policy and practices, I worked with the state art museum and other university associations to bring a number of newly released documentaries about transnational communities to campus to engender embodied understanding and dynamic discussion among students and the larger local community.

Currently I and some of my doctoral students are working on professional development initiative in a local middle school and there are using SLF-based informed genre pedagogy with ESOL and mainstream teachers to support students' access to disciplinary knowledge.

I am also offering in-class and on-site courses that help students use innovative instruction and develop participatory practices informed by SFL theoretical lens.

Click on the below blue texts for more information: 

Educational Semiotics

Professional Development School District




Functional Linguistics


What makes my work significant in the field of second language research is exploration of how systemic functional linguistics (SFL) supports emergent bilingual learners in not only developing advanced academic literacy, but also in validating their cultural and linguistic funds of knowledge. SFL researchers describe my research as “ground breaking” and “highly innovative.” Indeed, because of this innovative focus, one of my SFL papers received an emerging scholar award from the Language and Social Processes Special Interest Group in 2009 (AERA). With a colleague, I also wrote about the key ontological and epistemological assumptions underlying SFL and New Literacy perspectives on genre for a special edition of the Journal of Second Language Writing (Gebhard & Harman, 2011).

To explore the connections between multimodal and SFL research, I co-organized a panel in 2011 on intermodality/ intertextuality that included leading applied linguists from around the world. In addition, to deepen my own understanding of multimodality within a SFL theoretical framework and to establish connections with the vibrant language research community in Europe, I applied and was awarded a Sarah Moss Fellowship to study in Summer 2012 with Dr. Carey Jewitt, an international expert in multimodal SFL research, and my cutting-edge research team at the University of London. Using expertise in SFL and developing knowledge of multimodality, I have designed and taught courses that encourage students to analyze the semiotic patterns in texts and to develop critical genre-based pedagogies that support multilingual student learning in academically rigorous and meaningful ways (Educational Linguistics; Critical Discourse Analysis). In the coming Spring 2017 semester, I will also teach a course on SFL-informed content and language innovative instruction on-site at a local middle school. A number of my  LLED doctoral students have begun to use SFL as a core construct in their dissertation research design and methodology 




I have also expertise in using performance to research and challenge social equity issues in schools. In recent research at UGA, I have used SFL and linguistic ethnographic approaches to analyze how performance functioned discursively in work with urban teacher educators. in one of my latest articles I  used Bahktin’s theories of social heteroglossia and the analytic tools of SFL to investigate how performance functioned discursively in a graduate literature classroom. Findings highlight how performance pedagogy helped the teachers expose and challenge oppressive school relationships while at the same time re-inscribing power relations in the school. Performance educators see my research as innovative and important because it encourages more reflexivity in the use of the arts in education. 

Critical Performative Pedagogy

Just a sample of my work. To see more or discuss possible work >>

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