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Conra Gist, Iesha Jackson, Bianca Nightengale-Lee, and Keisha Allen

To effectively teach an increasingly diverse student population throughout the United States, scholars and teacher educators have become proponents of using culturally responsive pedagogy. Culturally responsive pedagogy is defined as a combination of knowledge, practices, and dispositions that center racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students’ cultural traditions, experiences, and perspectives to facilitate meaningful and transformative learning opportunities. Culturally responsive pedagogy is particularly important for students of color who have persistently been marginalized in U.S. schools and will become increasingly relevant in teacher education as the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of school populations continues to grow in the United States. As such, educator preparation programs are key teacher learning sites for preparing future teachers to be able to engage in culturally responsive pedagogical practices with their students. In the context of the United States, traditional educator preparation has often centered its program designs for a White female teacher population, preparing them to address the learning needs of racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse student populations via sense making and application activities in individual courses, community service projects, and fieldwork experiences. These efforts are often additive approaches for addressing culturally responsive pedagogy in the curriculum and not always central to the mission of programs. Scholars have challenged piecemeal preparation approaches for addressing culturally responsive pedagogy and argued for an integration of culturally responsive approaches throughout preservice teacher preparation experiences. Despite calling attention to such approaches, several issues complicate this effort. For one, the pervasive Whiteness that encompasses most educator preparation programs must be acknowledged, critiqued, and addressed in ways that many programs are ill-equipped to do given the demographic makeup of the teaching faculty. Even if some programs recognize this pressing need and work to emphasize the importance of culturally responsive pedagogy in the core mission statements of their programs, close examination of the program design suggests gaps of the application as it relates to the learning experiences of teacher candidates. Further, there is growing concern regarding the overemphasis of culturally responsive approaches for preparing White teachers in ways that overlook the learning and preparation needs of teachers of color. Given these challenges, discourse on culturally responsive pedagogy in teacher education must be addressed through the perspective of multiple stakeholders and program facets, with a common goal of emphasizing rigorous, engaging, and challenging educational opportunity for racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse youth in schools.


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.


Eva Zygmunt, Kristin Cipollone, Patricia Clark, and Susan Tancock

Community-engaged teacher preparation is an innovative paradigm through which to prepare socially just, equity-focused teachers with the capacity to enact pedagogies that are culturally relevant, responsive, and sustaining. Operationalized through candidates’ situated learning in historically marginalized communities, this approach emphasizes the concerted cultivation of collaborative relationships among universities, communities, and schools; the elevation of funds of knowledge and community cultural wealth; and an in-depth analysis of social inequality and positionality, and the intersections between the two, as essential knowledge for future teachers. As a means through which to address the persistent achievement gap between racially, socioeconomically, and linguistically nondominant and dominant students, community-engaged teacher preparation is a prototype through which to advance educational equity.


Sociocultural perspectives on curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment support teachers in developing and implementing inclusive pedagogies. Sociocultural assessment approaches disregard impairment as an identity in itself, privileging the strengths and knowledge evident in observed interactions. A sociocultural approach to assessment recognizes the dynamic interaction between teaching, learning, and assessment, spread across people, places, and time. Where traditional forms of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment focus on a decontextualized individual, a sociocultural perspective pays close attention to contexts. Teachers’ practices, expectations, and understandings of learning and diversity form a key part of the contexts. In culturally responsive paradigms, learning is recognized as sociocultural—being informed through interactions with others. All students are recognized and valued as people who gain experiences and knowledge across many contexts. Multiple perspectives are valued as shared understandings and constructions of learning are developed in response to observations and interactions in a community of learners—where students and teachers learn with and from each other. Teachers who recognize themselves as capable of teaching everyone in the class are more likely to recognize everyone as a learner, to think critically about their positioning and understanding of disability, and to plan teaching, learning, and assessment in inclusive ways of working.


Differentiated instruction encompasses a wide range of responsive pedagogies, including individualized types and levels of curricula, teaching methods, materials, and assessment strategies. It has at its roots the impetus for effective inclusive schooling, providing supports directly within general education classrooms for students with the full range of exceptionalities (both significant disabilities and giftedness) and other diverse educational characteristics such as cultural and linguistic background and socioeconomic status. To effectively include students with higher levels of need, comparable levels of supports follow the student from the special education setting to the general education classroom. This enriched level of support in the general education classroom benefits not only students with disabilities, but the class as a whole. The legal and ethical bases for inclusive schooling are connected with various civil rights movements (including race, disability, culture and language, gender); it can be viewed as a response to segregated schooling (and denial of schooling altogether). Schools frequently remove students when traditional educational programs fail, adding on separate programs rather than rectifying the existing system. Such special programs have been routinely promulgated without substantial evidence of their effectiveness over supportive general education classrooms (either for segregated students or for their unlabeled general education peers). Important aspects of differentiated instruction and inclusive schooling include multilevel instruction; authentic and culturally responsive curricula, methods, and assessment; universal design for learning; assistive and instructional technologies; positive behavioral supports; and a collaborative team approach to instructional decision-making and delivery. Differentiated instruction and effective inclusive schooling are vital for equitable access to educational opportunities, bringing more responsive curricula, methods, and perspectives to increasingly diverse classrooms and schools.