Teaching Science in Culturally Diverse Classrooms: The Relevance of Multicultural Coursework on Novice Teachers' instructional Choice
AdvisorEvans, Carol A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractScience education reform in the United States has been slow to reduce the troubling science achievement gap between students from mainstream and non- mainstream backgrounds. Recent data suggest the gap persists in spite of improved attention to the multicultural education of teachers, and in spite of recent, more culturally inclusive and responsive curricular materials and instructional recommendations.In this study, I examine the cases of two European American male novice science teachers in middle schools with highly diverse populations, exploring their perceptions of the necessity of adapting their instructional approaches and the science curricula in order to meet the needs of their predominantly Native American, Mexican American, and African American students. Two theoretical frameworks inform this study, Rodriguez's (2005) sociotransformative constructivism, and Freire's critical pedagogy.I apply a qualitative case study method, to better understand and analyze the classroom setting and power relations of the context. Data consist of semi-structured interviews with each teacher, classroom observation and other field notes, the science curricular and instructional materials, and teachers' lesson plans.Each teacher acknowledged the ethnicities of students positively and noticed distinctive ethnocultural features (e.g., quinceañeras, Mexican Americans). Yet, their teaching approaches were primarily teacher-centric and monocultural. Each followed the book, usually lecturing, and striving dutifully to "cover" the topics. They did not solicit students' knowledge or engage them in dialog to explore their thinking. Even when the curriculum guide detailed relevant science knowledge students of some culturalgroups might have, both teachers declined to use it. These well-meaning teachers did not fully perceive that students whose culturewas different from their own might have different and relevant knowledge, experiences, or histories which were resources for learning. As a result, even when the teachers tried more student- centered, inclusive strategies, such as implementing authentic science activities, they did not support students' construction of knowledge through responsive dialog.Teachers assigned to ethnically and culturally diverse students must be helped to fully understand that learners from other cultures have differing knowledge resources. Science teachers in particular must recognize the social and ideological landscape in which their teaching take place.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Teaching & Teacher Education