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Sociocultural Perspectives in Science Education  

Sara Tolbert, Paulina Grino, and Tenzin Sonam

Since the late 20th century, scholarship in science education has made considerable shifts from cognitive psychology and individual constructivism toward sociocultural theories of science education as frameworks for science teaching and learning. By and large, this scholarship has attended to the ways in which both doing and learning science are embedded within sociocultural contexts, whereby learners are enculturated into scientific practices through classroom-based or scientific learning communities, such as through an apprenticeship model. Still, science education theories and practice do not systematically take into account the experiences, interests, and concerns of marginalized student groups within science and science education. Critical sociocultural perspectives in science education take up issues and questions of how science education can better serve the interests of marginalized groups, while simultaneously creating spaces for marginalized groups to transform the sciences, and science education. These shifts in science education scholarship have been accompanied by a similar shift in qualitative research methods. Research methods in science education are transitioning from a focus on positivistic content analysis of learners’ conceptions of core ideas in science, toward more robust qualitative methods—such as design experimentation, critical ethnography, and participatory research methods—that show how learners’ identities are constituted with the complex spaces of science classrooms, as well as within larger societal matrices of oppression. The focus of this article is to communicate these recent trends in sociocultural perspectives on science education theory, research, and practice.

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Resource Pedagogies and the Evolution of Culturally Relevant, Responsive, and Sustaining Education  

Alexandra J. Reyes and Taylor A. Norman

Since the latter half of the 20th century, resource pedagogies have been encouraged in U.S. teacher education programs and promoted through in-service teacher professional development sessions. Resource pedagogies resist deficit perspectives by taking an asset-based perspective of cultural and linguistic difference. Asset-based perspectives differ from traditional, deficit-oriented schooling practice by viewing the rich cultural, linguistic, and literacy practices and knowledges of students from communities that have been historically marginalized by White middle-class normed policies as valuable assets. Major resource pedagogies have evolved since their emergence in response to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Specifically, educational researchers and practitioners have advanced multicultural education, culturally relevant pedagogy, culturally responsive teaching, and culturally sustaining pedagogies to address educational inequities and narrow the opportunity gap between students from dominant communities and those that have been historically marginalized. Although numerous researchers and classroom practitioners have demonstrated the power of these asset-based pedagogies to improve student engagement and academic achievement for students from historically marginalized communities, they are still not widely incorporated in practice. Controversies around the conceptualization, conflation, and implementation of the various asset-based approaches to teaching and learning push educational researchers and practitioners to continue to refine and transform education.