15. Building Student Self-Awareness of Learning to Enhance Diversity in the Sciences
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

270 15 Building Student Self-Awareness of Learning to Enhance Diversity in the Sciences Erin Peters-Burton and Giuseppina Kysar Mattietti Many member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have reported significant growth in their skilled workers in STEM, some surpassing the United States (National Science Foundation, 2014), which is an indication that the United States is doing a poor job encouraging and retaining young learners in the fields of STEM as compared to other countries around the globe. To exacerbate this problem, of the few students who are pursuing STEM fields, there is a disproportionately low participation of African Americans, Native Americans , and Latinos. Although 33 percent of the school-age population is comprised of African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos, only 11 percent of these minority groups become professionals in the STEM fields (Chubin, May, & Babco, 2005). Some of the most important precollegiate factors in completing a bachelor’s degree, particularly in science, were found to be academic intensity in high school (Adelman, 2006) and level of mathematical proficiency (Astin & Astin, 1992). However, schools with students who are in the lowest socioeconomic status rarely offer mathematics above Algebra II (Adelman, 2006). The United States needs a more representative workforce, particularly in the STEM fields where innovations in technologies and medicine affect us all. Recent reports indicate that not only is the United States falling behind in science proficiency in its K–12 education system, its international rankings tend to get worse as students mature. For example, in tests comparing achievement across students internationally , US students are relatively competitive in fourth grade but are below the fiftieth percentile in eighth-grade testing (National Center for Educational Statistics Building Student Self-Awareness | 271 [NCES], 2013), and there is a dearth of young people, particularly from diverse backgrounds , pursuing science as a career (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, 2010). US students also possess relatively low levels of interest in science and exhibit deficiencies in various types of science practices, such as designing investigations to reliably collect data and then analyzing and using data to support logical conclusions (NCES, 2013). The dearth of typically underrepresented groups in STEM could be remedied by renovating educational experiences starting early in students’ careers so that everyone has an opportunity to understand how science works and to pursue employment in the STEM fields. Supportive educational environments have been positively linked to retention and persistence of students of color in STEM fields (Cole & Espinoza, 2008; Fries-Britt, Younger, & Hall, 2010; Hurtado, Cabrera, Lin, Arellano, & Espinosa, 2009). Tsui (2007) found in a review of the literature three factors that are effective strategies to increase diversity in STEM fields: bridge programs, mentoring, and exposure to research experiences . Although there are clearly a variety of contextual (e.g., quality of instruction, nature of feedback) and student variables (e.g., motivation, self-regulation) that may contribute to this perpetual pattern of science underachievement, researchers have increasingly turned their attention to the importance of building self-awareness of learning processes in students in the hopes that it will increase participation of students who consider themselves “not science-minded,” particularly those students who are traditionally underrepresented in science. By making progress in student understanding of how science works as a field, we can also increase the number of those typically left out of the STEM pipeline. Students who have a deep understanding of how science works as a discipline and how they personally learn science may be more able to make more logical decisions that are scientifically valid (Akerson & Abd-El-Khalick, 2003; Crawford, 2005). Although it is intuitive to think that just by conducting inquiry students will understand how scientists operate, there is a body of research demonstrating that the current ways that science is approached in classrooms, both in the K–12 system and at the college level, has been found to be less than effective in building foundational knowledge in science (Gess-Newsome, 2002; Khishfe & Abd-El-Khalick, 2002). Further, the teacher plays a pivotal role in designing class discussions in what science is, how scientists work, and how to be active learners in understanding the scientific enterprise (Bianchini & Colburn , 2000; Peters-Burton, 2015). A typical student is exposed to the content of science, not to the culture of science (Hogan, 1999), so it is important for teachers to provide the scaffolding that will illustrate how scientists think and operate. We feel that communicating the culture of science is essential in science education because knowing all the...


pdf