Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > THE PERSPECTIVES AND EXPERIENCES OF AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS IN AN INFORMAL SCIENCE PROGRAM
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Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are the fastest growing sectors of the economy, nationally and globally. In order for the United States (U.S.) to maintain its competitiveness, it is important to address STEM experiences at the precollege level. In early years, science education serves as a foundation and pipeline for students to pursue STEM in college and beyond. Alternative approaches to instruction in formal classrooms have been introduced to engage more students in science. One alternative is informal science education. Informal science education is an avenue used to promote science education literacy. Because it is less regulated than science teaching in formal classroom settings, it allows for the incorporation of culture into science instruction. Culturally relevant science teaching is one way to relate science to African American students, a population that continually underperforms in K-12 science education. This study explores the science perspectives and experiences of African American middle school students participating in an informal science program. The research is framed by the tenets of culturally relevant pedagogy and shaped by the following questions: (1) What specific aspects of the Carver Program make it unique to African American students? (2) How is culturally relevant pedagogy incorporated into the informal science program? (3) How does the incorporation of culturally relevant pedagogy into the informal science program influence African American students’ perceptions about science? The findings to the previously stated questions add to the limited research on African American students in informal science learning environments and contribute to the growing research on culturally relevant science. This study is unique in that it explores the cultural components of an informal science program.