Hybrid discourse spaces: A mixed methods study of student engagement in U.S. science classrooms

Christine Lee Bae, Martinique A. Sealy, Lauren Cabrera, Jessica R. Gladstone, Daphne Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this mixed methods study, we applied engagement and sociocultural (hybridity) frameworks to understand the nature of historically underserved students' participation in science discourse. We analyzed videos from seven U.S. urban middle school science classrooms to examine features of hybrid discourse spaces (where students’ everyday and academic discourses are integrated) as students engaged in science talk. We also examined the relationships among instructional practices and science engagement (N = 101 students) using bifactor exploratory structural equation modeling (bESEM). Findings showed that science discourse occurred primarily in traditional spaces and was largely directed by the teacher. Within the smaller subset of hybrid spaces, small group discourse formats and shared or student-directed agency were more prevalent compared to traditional and everyday spaces. Qualitative themes displayed student agency, identities, and knowledge bases across lived worlds co-existing in hybrid discourse spaces. The bESEM showed that instructional practices associated with high quality and equity-focused instruction relate differentially to specific dimensions of engagement, demonstrating most consistent relationships with affective engagement. The variable representing funds of knowledge connections was only related to cognitive engagement. The integrated findings demonstrate the potential of hybrid discourse spaces for supporting equitable student engagement in science talk. Implications for practice and lines for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102108
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Engagement
  • Hybrid
  • Middle school
  • Mixed methods
  • Science discourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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