Practice Brief 15 -- Topics: Background Equity InformalEd Practices

Overview: How can we promote equity in science education?

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  • -BACKGROUND

Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers should work with colleagues to implement instructional strategies to make science learning experiences more inclusive for all students.
  • District staff and PD providers should integrate a focus on equity and social justice into every teacher learning experience in relevant ways—and not treat diversity as a segregated topic.
  • School leaders should promote a sustained focus on inclusive science instruction. Efforts should be made to resource and monitor equitable opportunities to learn science.

What is the Issue?

Equity should be prioritized as a central component in all educational improvement efforts. All students can and should learn complex science. However, achieving equity and social justice in science education is an ongoing challenge. Students from non-dominant communities often face "opportunity gaps" in their educational experience. Inclusive approaches to science instruction can reposition youth as meaningful participants in science learning and recognize their science-related assets and those of their communities.

Authors:

PHILIP BELL AND MEGAN BANG


Reflection Questions

  • What are your short- and longterm goals in promoting equity and social justice in science? What are possible next steps?
  • Think about the scientific phenomena you teach and the concepts you want students to understand. How do they relate to the interests and practices of your students' communities? How can you overlap instruction with the lives of students?
  • Relate the teaching principles listed under "Attending to Equity" to your own practice.
  • Do you involve those you serve (youth, families, communities) in your teaching decisions?

Things to Consider

"Equity in science education requires that all students are provided with equitable opportunities to learn science and become engaged in science and engineering practices; with access to quality space, equipment, and teachers to support and motivate that learning and engagement; and adequate time spent on science. In addition, the issue of connecting to students' interests and experiences is particularly important for broadening participation in science."

— NRC Framework, p. 28

Attending to Equity

(from a forthcoming NSTA book on practices)

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