Date of Award

9-10-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Geeta Verma - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Jodi Kauffman - Committee Member

Abstract

Reform initiatives such as Science for All Americans (AAA, 1989) and National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) argue for making science accessible to all children regardless of age, sex, cultural and/or ethic background, and disabilities. One of the most popular and prevailing phrases highlighting science education reform in the last decade has been science for all. In terms of making science accessible to all, science educators argue that one role of science teachers ought to be to embrace students’ experiences outside of the science classroom by becoming aware and inclusive of the cultural resources that student’s households contain. Moll, González and Amanti (1992) termed these cultural resources as funds of knowledge which refer to culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household well being. This study examined the career transition of a former Latina scientist from a research scientist to a high school science teacher. Her lived experiences that influenced her career transition were examined using interpretive biography through a feminist theory lens. The following question guided the study: How have the lived experiences of the participant as engaged through cultural, historical, and social interactions influenced a transition in career from a research scientist to a classroom teacher? A former Latina scientist and her family participated in this study to facilitate the documentation, narration, and interpretation of her career transition. The researcher immersed herself in the field for five months and data collection included in-depth interviews with the participant and her family. In addition, the researcher kept a reflexive journal. Data were analyzed using socio-cultural thematic approach to identify snapshots and to develop emergent themes. Data analysis revealed that the participant’s cultural socialization conflicted with the Eurocentric/Androcentric culture of science found in both the university and research laboratories. Consequently the participant’s strong need to have a family was a powerful contributor to her selection of teaching as a second career. The participant’s lived experiences emphasized a need to explore the impact and interaction of ethnicity and gender in the myopic science culture that has left women and people of other cultures at the doorsteps of the scientific enterprise.

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