Portland State University. Department of Education
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction
African American students, Hispanic American students, Secondary Education, Science -- Study and teaching, Environmental education, High school teaching, Junior high school teaching
1 online resource (3, viii, 229 pages)
Science education and environmental education are not meeting the needs of marginalized communities such as urban, minority, and poor communities (Seller, 2001; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 1996). There exists an equity gap characterized by the racial and socioeconomic disparities in: levels of participation in scientific and environmental careers and environmental organizations (Lewis & James, 1995; Sheppard, 1995), access to appropriate environmental education programs (U.S. EPA, 1996), exposure to environmental toxins (Bullard, 1993), access to environmental amenities and legal protections (Bullard, 1993), and in grades and standardized test scores in K-12 science (Jencks & Phillips, 1998; Johnston & Viadero, 2000). Researchers point to the cultural divide between home and school culture as one of the reasons for the equity gap in science education (Barton, 2003; Delpit, 1995; Seiler, 2001).
This study is designed to address the equity gap by helping students connect personal/cultural knowledge to scientific knowledge. A collaborative action research study was conducted in 8th-grade science classrooms of low-income African American and Latino students. The participating teacher and the researcher developed, enacted and evaluated a curriculum that elicited students' personal and cultural knowledge in the investigation of local community issues. Using qualitative methods, data were collected through student and teacher interviews, observation, and written documents. Data were analyzed to answer questions on student participation and learning, bridging between personal and scientific knowledge, and student empowerment. The most compelling themes from the data were described as parts of three stories: tensions between the empire of school and the small student nation, bridging between the two nations, and students gaining empowerment.
This study found that the bridging the curriculum intended was successful in that many students brought personal knowledge to class and started to bring scientific knowledge into their personal worlds. Students translated between scientific language and their own language, displayed an understanding of community environmental health issues, and expressed a sense of empowerment as students and community members. Recommendations to science educators and researchers included: eliciting students' personal and cultural knowledge in the classroom, helping students to create new ways of participating in science, and engaging in collaborative research efforts.
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Sadeh, Shamu Fenyvesi, "From "Sit and Listen" of "Shake It Out Yourself" : Helping Urban Middle School Students to Bridge Personal Knowledge to Scientific Knowledge through a Collaborative Environmental Justice Curriculum" (2006). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6213.