Science Education in the Borderlands: An Examination of Science Classrooms in Texas High Schools Identified as Successful and Diverse
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Science literacy is a civil right and a critical part of becoming a participatory citizen in democracy. However, almost thirty years after Science for All Americans was released, scientific literacy is still not accessible to all. Unfortunately, science in schools is a place where students must transgress complicated cultural borders, even more so for students in highly diverse schools. Overall, science education is not inclusive, which becomes obvious in the disproportionate numbers of historically underrepresented individuals entering the science career pipeline. In this dissertation, my overall goal was to investigate the classroom learning environments of science teachers in traditional high schools identified as highly successful and highly diverse (HSHD) to uncover practices and patterns associated with high levels of success. In Study 1, I provided a demographic overview of the HSHD schools, using an algorithm to identify highly successful schools in terms of science achievement and college and career readiness. Through my examination of state databases, I found that only 1.8% (n=24) of the 1,308 traditional high schools satisfied the criteria for recognition as both highly successful and highly diverse. This percentage occurred in Texas, a border “Mega-State” currently serving a student population over 50% Hispanic. In Study 2, I looked into the classrooms of three schools identified as HSHD to focus on three to four science teachers within each school (n=10), individuals most responsible for the successful preparation of learners for career and college readiness. As a result of this study, I developed a grounded theory explaining the process of science teachers’ committing to science teaching at HSHD schools. Finally, in Study 3, I used the How People Learn Framework to focus on observable practices and patterns of nine of these teachers in their classrooms to uncover unique strategies enhancing their students’ learning. Classroom observation and analysis of teachers’ interviews revealed that a strong sense of community pervaded among the teachers’ practices. Each study tightened my lenses to examine aspects of the state, schools, and teachers of highly important yet often overlooked school ecologies associated with success in high school science achievement and college and career readiness.
Subjectsecondary science education
successful high schools
Leblanc, Jennifer K (2016). Science Education in the Borderlands: An Examination of Science Classrooms in Texas High Schools Identified as Successful and Diverse. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from