skip to main content


Title: Navigating Relational Perspectives Through Collaboration to Expand Students’ Experiences Of/With/In Places and Cultures
Making sense of what to do about the many daunting socio-environmental issues that we face will require intercultural understanding, openness to learning, and a capacity to draw on the strengths of multiple perspectives and to recognize limitations of dominant perspectives such as Eurocentric science. Navigating multiple perspectives in the school science classroom can be particularly treacherous for Indigenous students, whose cultural worldviews have often been excluded or denigrated in Eurocentric educational contexts. We present findings from a partnership project that is designing, implementing, studying, and refining instructional experiences for middle school students from significantly/predominantly Indigenous communities in Alaska and Hawai’i. This paper describes our efforts to understand project partners’ standpoints, acknowledging that in designing and implementing multi-perspective middle school science instruction, it will be critical to understand the multiple perspectives that we ourselves bring to the work. We present and discuss the views that project partners (including teachers) have shared concerning science, science education, multiple perspectives, and Indigenous cultural integrity and potential consequentiality for the project’s collaborative work. Five prominent themes relate to (1) the challenge of defining Indigenous and Eurocentric science for application in an instructional design context, (2) relationships with place, (3) centrality of language, (4) scaffolding and understanding learning through a multi-perspective lens, and (5) constraints associated with Eurocentric classroom and science contexts.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2101198
NSF-PAR ID:
10419667
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Annual Meeting of NARST
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Economically disadvantaged youth residing in mountain tourist communities represent an important and understudied rural population. These communities typically include a large percentage of children that are English language learners. Our NSF STEM Career Connections project, A Model for Preparing Economically-Disadvantaged Rural Youth for the Future STEM Workplace, investigates strategies that help middle school youth in these communities to envision a broader range of workforce opportunities, especially in STEM and computing careers. This poster highlights the initial findings of an innovative model that involves working with local schools and community partners to support the integration of local career contexts, engineering phenomena, 3D printing technologies, career connections, and mentorship into formal educational experiences to motivate and prepare rural youth for future STEM careers. We focus on select classrooms at two middle schools and describe the implementation of a novel 3D printing curriculum during the 2020-2021 school-year. Two STEM teachers implemented the five-week curriculum with approximately 300 students per quarter. To create a rich inquiry-driven learning environment, the curriculum uses an instructional design approach called storylining. This approach is intended to promote coherence, relevance, and meaning from the students’ perspectives by using students’ questions to drive investigations and lessons. Students worked towards answering the question: “How can we support animals with physical disabilities so they can perform daily activities independently?” Students engaged in the engineering design process by defining, developing, and optimizing solutions to develop and print prosthetic limbs for animals with disabilities using 3D modeling, a unique augmented reality application, and 3D printing. In order to embed connections to STEM careers and career pathways, some students received mentorship and guidance from local STEM professionals who work in related fields. This poster will describe the curriculum and its implementation across two quarters at two middle schools in the US rural mountain west, as well as the impact on students’ interest in STEM and computing careers. During the first quarter students engaged in the 3D printing curriculum, but did not have access to the STEM career and career pathway connections mentorship piece. During the second quarter, the project established a partnership with a local STEM business -- a medical research institute that utilizes 3D printing and scanning for creating human surgical devices and procedures -- to provide mentorship to the students. Volunteers from this institute served as ongoing mentors for the students in each classroom during the second quarter. The STEM mentors guided students through the process of designing, testing, and optimizing their 3D models and 3D printed prosthetics, providing insights into how students’ learning directly applies to the medical industry. Different forms of student data such as cognitive interviews and pre/post STEM interest and spatial thinking surveys were collected and analyzed to understand the benefits of the career connections mentorship component. Preliminary findings suggest the relationship between local STEM businesses and students is important to motivate youth from rural areas to see themselves being successful in STEM careers and helping them to realize the benefits of engaging with emerging engineering technologies. 
    more » « less
  2. Oftentimes engineering design tasks are thought of as acultural and devoid of community inclusion and values. However, engineering design is inherently a cultural endeavor. Problems needing engineering solutions or design thinking are situated in a specific community and need community solutions. This work in progress paper describes initial efforts from a project to help elementary and middle school teachers create culturally relevant engineering design tasks for implementation in their classrooms. To integrate best practices for culturally relevant pedagogy, the engineering design framework developed by UTeach Engineering was adapted to specifically address community needs and cultural values. Changes to the framework also include culturally relevant instructional strategies for classroom implementation. To situate the engineering design steps within a culturally relevant framework questions involving communities and students’ cultural needs, values, and expectations were posed in each stage of the design process. A water filtration engineering design task was situated in the cultural concept of “Mni Wiconi” (Water is life in the Dakota language). This was taught in a summer professional development workshop for a cohort of elementary and middle school teachers, in rural North Dakota, with school districts comprised of large Native American student populations. Teachers adapted this design task for their individual classrooms and content areas (science, math, social studies, ELA) and implemented it in their classrooms in the fall of 2021. Additional support for teachers was provided with fall workshop days aimed at helping them with the facilitation of a culturally relevant engineering task. To integrate culturally relevant teaching and good engineering design tasks, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction’s Native American Essential Understandings Teachings of our Elder’s website was used. This allowed teachers and students to have firsthand knowledge of how various science and engineering concepts are framed within the indigenous community. Professional development focused on how to situate culturally responsive teaching in engineering design. For example, in one of the school districts the water filtration task was related to increased pollution of a nearby lake which holds significant importance for the local Tribal Nation. In addition to being able to visibly witness the demand for cleaner water, the book “We are Water Protectors” written by Carole Lindstrom, was used to provide cultural grounding for the Identify and Describe stages of the engineering design framework. Case studies of how teachers incorporated the water filtration design task into their lesson plans are presented along with their suggestions on how to improve classroom implementation. Future work in the program includes teachers and their students developing engineering design tasks situated in their own communities and cultures. 
    more » « less
  3. Our NSF-funded ITEST project focuses on the collaborative design, implementation, and study of recurrent hands-on engineering activities with middle school youth in three rural communities in or near Appalachia. To achieve this aim, our team of faculty and graduate students partner with school educators and industry experts embedded in students’ local communities to collectively develop curriculum to aim at teacher-identified science standard and facilitate regular in-class interventions throughout the academic year. Leveraging local expertise is especially critical in this project because family pressures, cultural milieu, and preference for local, stable jobs play considerable roles in how Appalachian youth choose possible careers. Our partner communities have voluntarily opted to participate with us in a shared implementation-research program and as our project unfolds we are responsive to community-identified needs and preferences while maintaining the research program’s integrity. Our primary focus has been working to incorporate hands-on activities into science classrooms aimed at state science standards in recognition of the demands placed on teachers to align classroom time with state standards and associated standardized achievement tests. Our focus on serving diverse communities while being attentive to relevant research such as the preference for local, stable jobs attention to cultural relevance led us to reach out to advanced manufacturing facilities based in the target communities in order to enhance the connection students and teachers feel to local engineers. Each manufacturer has committed to designating several employees (engineers) to co-facilitate interventions six times each academic year. Launching our project has involved coordination across stakeholder groups to understand distinct values, goals, strengths and needs. In the first academic year, we are working with 9 different 6th grade science teachers across 7 schools in 3 counties. Co-facilitating in the classroom are representatives from our project team, graduate student volunteers from across the college of engineering, and volunteering engineers from our three industry partners. Developing this multi-stakeholder partnership has involved discussions and approvals across both school systems (e.g., superintendents, STEM coordinators, teachers) and our industry partners (e.g., managers, HR staff, volunteering engineers). The aim of this engagement-in-practice paper is to explore our lessons learned in navigating the day-to-day challenges of (1) developing and facilitating curriculum at the intersection of science standards, hands-on activities, cultural relevancy, and engineering thinking, (2) collaborating with volunteers from our industry partners and within our own college of engineering in order to deliver content in every science class of our 9 6th grade teachers one full school day/month, and (3) adapting to emergent needs that arise due to school and division differences (e.g., logistics of scheduling and curriculum pacing), community differences across our three counties (e.g., available resources in schools), and partner constraints. 
    more » « less
  4. Most engineering ethics education is segregated into particular courses that, from a student’s perspective, can feel disconnected from the technical education at the center of their programs. In part because of this disconnect, several immersive programs designed to train engineering students in socio-technical systems thinking have emerged in the U.S. in the past two decades. One pedagogical goal of these programs is to provide alternative ideologies and practices that counter dominant cultural paradigms that marginalize macroethical thinking and social justice perspectives in engineering schools. In theory, longer-term immersion in such programs can help students overcome these harmful ideologies. However, because of the difficult nature of studying cultural change, very few studies have attempted to provide a thick description of how these alternative cultural practices are influencing student perspectives on engineering practices. Our study offers a rare glimpse at student uptake of these practices in a multi-year Science, Technology, and Society (STS) living-learning program. Our study explores whether and how cultural practices within an STS program help students develop and sustain the resources for using a socio-technical systems thinking approach to engineering practice. We grounded our work in a cultural practices framework from Nasir and Kirshner [1] which roughly understands practice to be “a patterned set of actions performed by members of a group based on common purposes and expectations, with shared cultural values, tools, and meanings” ([2, p. 99] as cited in [3]). Our descriptions of collective enactments of cultural practices are grounded in accounts of classroom events from researcher fieldnotes and reflections in student interviews. Looking across the enactment of practices in classrooms and students’ interpretations of these events in interviews allows us to describe the multiplicity of meanings that students distill from these activities. This paper will present on multiple cultural practices salient to students we have identified in this STS community, for example: cultivating an ethics of care, making the invisible visible, understanding systems from multiple perspectives, and empowering students to develop moral stances as citizens and scientists/engineers in society. Because of the complexity of the interplay between the scaffolding of the STS program’s pedagogy and the emergence of these four themes, we chose to center “cultivating an ethics of care” in this analysis and relationally explore the other three themes through it. Ethics of care manifests in two basic ways in the data. Students talk about how an ethics of care is part of the STS program community and how the STS program fosters the need for an ethics of care toward communities outside the classroom through human-centered engineering design. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract The CCERS partnership includes collaborators from universities, foundations, education departments, community organizations, and cultural institutions to build a new curriculum. As reported in a study conducted by the Rand Corporation (2011), partnerships among districts, community-based organizations, government agencies, local funders, and others can strengthen learning programs. The curriculum merged project-based learning and Bybee’s 5E model (Note 1) to teach core STEM-C concepts to urban middle school students through restoration science. CCERS has five interrelated and complementary programmatic pillars (see details in the next section). The CCERS curriculum encourages urban middle school students to explore and participate in project-based learning activities restoring the oyster population in and around New York Harbor. In Melaville, Berg and Blank’s Community Based Learning (2001) there is a statement that says, “Education must connect subject matter with the places where students live and the issues that affect us all”. Lessons engage students and teachers in long-term restoration ecology and environmental monitoring projects with STEM professionals and citizen scientists. In brief, partners have created curriculums for both in-school and out-of-school learning programs, an online platform for educators and students to collaborate, and exhibits with community partners to reinforce and extend both the educators’ and their students’ learning. Currently CCERS implementation involves: • 78 middle schools • 127 teachers • 110 scientist volunteers • Over 5000 K-12 students In this report, we present summative findings from data collected via surveys among three cohorts of students whose teachers were trained by the project’s curriculum and findings from interviews among project leaders to answer the following research questions: 1. Do the five programmatic pillars function independently and collectively as a system of interrelated STEM-C content delivery vehicles that also effectively change students’ and educators’ disposition towards STEM-C learning and environmental restoration and stewardship? 2. What comprises the "curriculum plus community enterprise" local model? 3. What are the mechanisms for creating sustainability and scalability of the model locally during and beyond its five-year implementation? 4. What core aspects of the model are replicable? Findings suggest the program improved students’ knowledge in life sciences but did not have a significant effect on students’ intent to become a scientist or affinity for science. Published by Sciedu Press 1 ISSN 2380-9183 E-ISSN 2380-9205 http://irhe.sciedupress.com International Research in Higher Education Vol. 3, No. 4; 2018 Interviews with project staff indicated that the key factors in the model were its conservation mission, partnerships, and the local nature of the issues involved. The primary mechanisms for sustainability and scalability beyond the five-year implementation were the digital platform, the curriculum itself, and the dissemination (with over 450 articles related to the project published in the media and academic journals). The core replicable aspects identified were the digital platform and adoption in other Keystone species contexts. 
    more » « less