INVESTIGATION OF SECONDARY SCIENCE TEACHERS’ PERSPECTIVES OF A CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE LESSON ON RACE AND HUMAN GENETICS
MetadataShow full item record
Background: High school students are not taught that race is a social rather than biological construct, and this pedagogical omission has led to biological essentialism. Biological essentialism is the belief that race can be used in predictable ways to determine intellect and/or behavior. Biological essentialism can result in the belief that unscientifically-proven racial stereotypes are true. Additional work is needed to support the teaching of a scientifically accurate understanding of human diversity in high schools. Teachers’ perceptions have huge impacts on what is taught in the classroom. Therefore, understanding teachers’ perceptions on teaching about race and human diversity is a crucial step in addressing gaps within the high school biology curriculum. Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate teachers’ perceptions of a specific culturally responsive lesson on the social construct of race. The three research questions were the following: (a) In what ways, if any, do in-service high school biology teachers’ positionalities affect their perceptions of a specific culturally responsive lesson on race and human diversity?; (b) What impacts, if any, do in-service biology teachers perceive the lesson to have on students’ understandings of the social construction of race?; (c) What impacts, if any, do in-service high school biology teachers perceive the lesson on race and human diversity to have on students’ scientific argumentation skills? Methods: This qualitative investigation used a multiple case study approach that reported findings across a group of cases within the context of a single study. Through purposeful sampling methods, four teachers reported their experiences teaching a culturally responsive genetics lesson. Data was collected through individual teacher interviews, teacher refection notes, and a focus group interview with all teacher participants. A repository of all data was created and analyzed through an iterative process to code for themes within each case. Results: Three themes emerged from this investigation. Firstly, teacher positionality concerning the three tenets of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP) ranged from high to moderate to low orientations. The other major themes identified include observed shifts in students’ thinking and teaching strategies used during instruction. Conclusion: The use of argumentation strategies in high school instruction can support students’ abilities to identify unscientific claims regarding race and reduce students’ beliefs in racial stereotypes. Lastly, the amount of training in CRP a teacher receives is a significant indicator of the extent to which they incorporate the three tenets of CRP into their instruction.