Cultural Models of Teaching and Learning in Math and Science: Exploring the Intersections of Culture, Cognition, and Pedagogical Situations


While researchers have examined how disciplinary and departmental cultures influence instructional practices in higher education, there has yet to be an examination of this relationship at the embodied level of culture. In this article we utilize cultural models theory to examine the theories of student learning and teaching practice espoused and enacted by undergraduate math and science faculty. To examine these cultural models of teaching and learning we use thematic analysis, clustering, scaling, and graphing techniques to analyze interview transcripts and classroom observation data among 41 undergraduate math and science instructors across three universities in the United States. We then focus on three individual cases of instructors to examine how their cultural models interact with other cultural models, existing forms of teaching practice, and features of instructional environments to shape their teaching practices. The article concludes by setting forth an agenda for future research and arguing that the “cultures of teaching” in these disciplines should not only be perceived as barriers but also opportunities for meaningful pedagogical innovation.