Exploring the biographies of prospective science teachers: evolving perspectives on diversity and equity

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George, Magnia A.

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Science as a body of knowledge holds a highly regarded place in society. In recent years, science education has been the object of national scrutiny as the result of assessment data that indicates that the scientific literacy of students in the United States is marginal as compared to other advanced nations around the world. Students of color have been especially targeted due to the historical underrepresentation of this group in the sciences. Specifically access to a rigorous science curriculum and qualified teachers has been implicated in improving the chances of traditionally underserved students to participate and achieve in science. The aim of this study was to explore the perspectives (i.e., the beliefs, knowledge, and experiences) of prospective secondary science teachers regarding a science for all reform agenda. Constructivist, critical, and feminist methodologies were used to elicit prospective teachers’ views of equity in science teaching and learning as they described their experiences as science learners and prospective science teachers. The topic of multicultural science education served as a context for focus group conversations. Analysis of conversations revealed that participants’ lived experiences as learners and teachers-in-the-making shape their views of science and science education, their views of issues of diversity in teaching and learning, and their views of the organizational features of schooling. A dialogic relational perspective (DRP) model that attends to biography is proposed as a means for considering the roles of teacher, student, and science in relationship to the goals of science for all. The model is presented and discussed in the context of equity pedagogy for science teacher preparation and development.