Constructing cultural relevance in science: A case study of two elementary teachers



Classrooms across the United States increasingly find White teachers paired with ethnic minority students, but few of these teachers are prepared for the disparities such cultural integration presents. This is particularly true vis-à-vis science education. While classrooms have diversified, science instruction has not necessarily followed suit. Two theories, constructivism and culturally relevant pedagogy, have been identified as mechanisms to diminish the disparities in science education. Yet culturally relevant pedagogy has not had the same impact as constructivism, even though it has been posited as a crucial means to better assure ethnic minority access to education. A case study of two classroom teachers investigates whether and how constructivism can be leveraged to develop culturally relevant pedagogy in science instruction. Identifying practical possibilities for culturally relevant pedagogy in science education is important for students, teachers, and the future of the U.S. workforce because it provides a means of increasing marginalized students' access to science and technological fields. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed92:994–1014, 2008