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ERIC Number: ED559800
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 266
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-3033-3766-6
Teacher Learning from Girls' Informal Science Experiences
Birmingham, Daniel J.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
School science continues to fail to engage youth from non-dominant communities (Carlone, Huan-Frank & Webb, 2011). However, recent research demonstrates that informal science learning settings support both knowledge gains and increased participation in science among youth from non-dominant communities (Dierking, 2007; Falk et al., 2007; HFRP, 2010). Despite the success, little is known about how teachers can learn from informal science practices to support student engagement in science. In this study, I examine the impact informal science experiences has for the teaching and learning of science in school contexts. This study is focused on eliciting girls' stories of informal science learning experiences and sharing these stories with science teachers to examine what they notice and make meaning of in connection with their classroom practices (van Es & Sherin, 2002). I co-constructed cases of informal science experiences with middle school females who participate in an after school science program in an urban area. These cases consisted of the girls' written stories, their explicit messages to science teachers, examples of actions taken when investigating community based science issues and transcripts of conversations between the girls and researchers. These cases were shared with local science teachers in order to investigate what they "notice" (van Es & Sherin, 2002) regarding girls' participation in informal science learning, how they make meaning of youths' stories and whether the stories influence their classroom practices. I found that the girls' use their cases to share experiences of how, where and why science matters, to express hope for school science and to critique stereotypical views that young, female, students of color from lower SES backgrounds are not interested or capable of making contributions to scientific investigations. Additionally, I found that teachers noticed powerful messages within and across the girls' cases. The messages include; 1) students' desire to be active participants in science investigations, 2) the need to provide spaces for students to leverage their strengths when learning and doing science, 3) the importance of building connections between science and community, and 4) expanding the outcomes of scientific investigations beyond traditional school measures. However, their individual meaning making was influenced by tensions between what they found powerful in the cases, the institutional narratives that often guide practice in schools and the societal and personal narratives connected to participation of girls from non dominant communities in science. Thus, each of the three teachers took different pathways as they implemented new science learning experiences based upon what each found most salient in the girls' stories as well as the influence of institutional, societal and personal narratives, resulting in varied learning experiences for their students. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A