Date of Award

12-14-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Renée S. Schwartz

Second Advisor

Dr. Pier A. Junor Clarke

Third Advisor

Dr. Janet Burns

Abstract

The underperformance of minoritized students in public school science as measured by standardized exams and the underrepresentation of minoritized students in science-related careers is well documented. Currently, most of the nation’s children under 5 are members of minoritized groups and for the first time in U.S. public school history, the majority of students in public schools is largely composed of Black, Hispanic, and Asian students. In an effort to improve the performance of minoritized students, teachers need to understand their students’ cultures and how these cultures play a role in teaching and learning. Science teachers are responsible for helping their students understand scientific ways of thinking, which can be accomplished by reconsidering science as a culture and making this culture an explicit part of science teaching including nature of science. This qualitative research study used a phenomenographic approach to identify the understandings of nature of science and culturally relevant pedagogy held by 10 urban, secondary science teachers in a large metropolitan city in the U.S. Southeast. The data were drawn from analysis of transcripts of semi-structured interviews as well as responses to the Views of Nature of Science questionnaire. Participants communicated understandings of culturally relevant pedagogy that ranged from assimilationist understandings to informed understandings in various aspects. Additionally, participants communicated understandings of the NOS aspects that ranged from naïve to informed. Based on the responses of the participants, there were some relationships between their understanding of CRP and NOS. The nature of the relationships between science teachers’ beliefs about the classroom social environment and their beliefs about the subjective NOS as well as the role of social and cultural influences on science and the development of scientific knowledge should be explored further. New relationships could be helpful in developing a framework for culturally relevant science teaching. This study provided evidence that this group of urban, secondary science teachers lack knowledge of relevant NOS aspects for K‒12 learners as well as CRP as a pedagogical framework. Knowledge of both, with professional development focused on pedagogy, may translate into classroom practice and ultimately improve science education for minoritized students.

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