Impact of Teachers’ Educational Experiences in the Learning Pathways

  • NSF Award #1035455
  • Registration Former Noyce Scholar

  • First Name Amelia
  • Last Name Brown

  • Discipline Biology
  • Institution University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Current data shows gender and race barriers and gaps in pursuing STEM careers. Popular postulates of the source of these gaps include the lack of role-models, relevance, and identity-affirming teaching for female students and students of color in the STEM fields. One pedagogical and theoretical methodology that has a history of addressing these gaps in the classroom is Culturally Relevant Education (CRE). Despite widespread praise as solid teaching practice designed to overcome barriers to learning for students historically marginalized by STEM teaching, CRE faces several obstacles to implementation in classrooms. Difficulty bridging the gap between the theory and the practice of CRE is also well-documented. Additionally, research on CRE in STEM subject areas is limited and anecdotal, not providing universal examples for interested educators to model. This research provides a framework view of the above difficulties before exploring the role of various educational experiences in the learning pathways of STEM teachers towards, or away from, Culturally Relevant STEM Education. Secondary STEM teachers were surveyed using an adapted version of the School Climate for Diversity Scale. This scale collected information regarding the STEM teacher’s own 6-12 educational experience, their teacher preparation program, and the school environment in which they currently teach. Results are discussed in the form of correlations between STEM teacher’s motivations and attitudes towards CRE and their educational experiences as a 6-12 student, as a pre-service teaching student, and as a STEM educator in a community of practice.

Posted on July 6, 2017