Diversity and equity in science education

Children from racial and ethnic minority and low socioeconomic backgrounds are not reaching their full potential in science. Okhee Lee explains how equitable learning opportunities can close this achievement gap

FOR ABOUT THREE DECADES, science educators in the US have called for “science for all” as the principle of equity and excellence in science education. However, the promise of science for all cannot be attained while achievement gaps persist among pupils of diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds. There is a critical need to identify standards-based science instruction with strong evidence of effectiveness for diverse pupil groups. In this article I offer the concept of equitable learning opportunities as a framework to discuss ways to promote desired science outcomes for all pupils. I describe two theoretical perspectives, cognitive science and cultural congruence, that offer insights about equitable learning opportunities for pupils from non-mainstream backgrounds.

What we know
● Provided with equitable learning opportunities, children from all backgrounds have the capacity to be successful in science.
● Two theoretical perspectives, cognitive science and cultural congruence, offer insights about equitable learning opportunities for pupils from non-mainstream backgrounds.
● Science teaching is more effective when it links the linguistic and cultural experiences of diverse pupil groups with scientific practices.

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Published

June 2010