Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0001-7488-1259

Date of Award

5-17-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Renee' S. Schwartz

Second Advisor

Patrick J. Enderle

Third Advisor

Christine Thomas

Fourth Advisor

Michael Dias

Abstract

The latest report from the National Center for Education Statistics, indicates that the number of students from diverse racial and ethnical backgrounds continues to increase in United States' classrooms. These demographic changes have propelled revisions to current teacher education programs, in an effort to address the needs of all students. Students from underrepresented minorities do not perform as well as their counterparts in standardized assessments. This gap is observed across different grade levels and in all subjects, particularly science. Additionally, minority students are less likely to pursue careers in the STEM fields. The purpose of this multiple case-study was to investigate the beliefs, experiences and practices of seven pre-service science teachers in racially and ethnically diverse classrooms. The participants were part of a cohort from two national fellowships aimed at preparing science teachers to teach in high-needs' school districts. This study explored pre-service teachers' beliefs as related to racially and ethnically diverse learners in the science classroom. Additionally, this study investigated how these pre-service teachers conceptualized the tenets of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and implemented these during their practice. Data was collected in the form of semi-structured pre and post interviews, artifacts and field observations. An analysis of the pre-interview data suggests that most of the participants believe that there is no difference in the way students from different racial/ethnical backgrounds learn science. The participants, however, agree that these students will require different levels of support for language and other skills. Conversely, a deficit view is still portrayed in some of their responses, specifically when they indicate that students’ background knowledge may be limited due to previous schooling experiences. An analysis of the data from artifacts and field observations indicates that most of the strategies used by the participants resemble efforts towards promoting academic success. Additionally, a significant number of activities used by the participants aimed at connecting the cultural aspect of students’ lives with the science content. However, the frequency of the indicators within the last tenet, critical consciousness, suggests that limited approaches were implemented by the participants within this area.

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