Conceptual understanding, language acquisition, and identity formation in chemistry: Exploring a summer enrichment program

Project Overview

The diminishing pipeline and lack of diversity in the science fields continues to concern many in science and science education. Groups underrepresented in STEM fields include females (National Academies of Science, 2017), certain racial/ethnic groups (Hurtado, Newman, Tran, & Chang, 2010; NAS, 2017), and first generation college students (Dika & D’Amico, 2016).  Several research projects have emerged from a summer experience funded through Upward Bound (UB). The purpose of UB was to identify marginalized students with academic potential and to assist them with tutoring and mentoring during the academic year and to provide summer enrichment. To be included in the UB program, a student had to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, low-income family, have completed 8th grade, be at least 13 years old but not yet 19 years old, and be a potential first-generation college attendee. During the summer enrichment program used for this study, students lived in the dormitories from Sunday night to Friday afternoon during the month of June. For all students, the morning activities included core academic subjects (science, mathematics, and language arts) and the afternoon included electives, such as athletics.  After dinner, the students were engaged in tutoring time and/or social activities.  The sub-set of 20 students in this study were selected by the Upward Bound program administrators. The criterion was that the student had taken one or more semesters of high school chemistry. Fifteen females (four African American, eleven Latina) and five males (two African American, three Latino) met the criterion. At the time of the summer program, one student had completed 9th grade, three completed 10th grade and 16 had completed 11th grade.

Project 1

The purpose of this study is to investigate the discourse practices utilized in a chemistry laboratory by students of color, from low income families, who participated in a summer, lab-based residential program.  Our specific questions were: (1) How do students manifest joining the chemistry community?  (2) How do Discourse practices of the hybrid language emerge? (3) In what ways do Discourse practices and sense of community contribute to science learning?

Research Team              

Dr. Molly Weinburgh

Dr. Ummuhan Malkoc

Graduate Students

Ms. Heather Thompson

Mr. John Cordell

 

Project 2

The purpose of this study to examine the laboratory conditions initiated by the teacher that encourage or discourage discourse.

Research Team                      

Dr. Molly Weinburgh

Graduate Student

Ms. Heather Thompson