Date of Degree

10-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Urban Education

Advisor

Jennfer D. Adams

Subject Categories

Education | Environmental Sciences

Keywords

environmental science, identities, Place-based Education, sense of place, urban science teaching, whiteness

Abstract

This dissertation includes three main components related through a sociocultural lens of identity transformation. The first component describes the Field Studies program for ninth grade students at Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment (BASE High School), and explores how outdoor settings and place-based pedagogies can be used to enhance urban students' science identities. Student researchers took digital photographs of their Field Studies experiences and met in cogenerative dialogues with me, their teacher, where we shared our reflections. The second component explains students' experiences and reactions to a week-long place-based geoscience program held over spring break at Prospect Park. This program was offered to BASE students through the Opportunities to Enhance Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG) National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to Brooklyn College. Student researchers completed pre and post surveys, participated in focus groups, and wrote written reflections in their science journals to reflect upon their experiences completing authentic science research projects with undergraduate students and college faculty. Survey results were paired with students' journal responses to understand students' science identity transformations. The third component focuses on a case study that emerged from the Field Studies research. The dialogues between a female Caribbean American high school student and myself, a female white science teacher, are explored using the lenses of critical race theory and identity to focus on themes of stereotyping, whiteness, and science interests. This research adds to the body of knowledge describing how outdoor settings and place-based pedagogies can be used to increase urban students' interest in science. Additionally, this research investigates how in multicultural urban schools it is important for teachers to understand not only their students of color, but their own identities, and the relationships between them, in order to appropriately support their students' interests and desires to enter Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

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