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Mirroring minoritized students' cultures in Geoscience courses


Wright and Kotowski, 2021

Abstract: The use of active-learning strategies to teach out-of-school time (OST) geoscience courses has not significantly increased the number of racially minoritized students that pursue Geoscience. Studies hypothesize that significantly more minoritized students would pursue Geoscience if courses better resemble the students' Collectivist cultures. We test this hypothesis by using pre-course, post-course, and after-activity surveys to quantify minoritized student engagement, perception of, and interest in pursuing Geoscience during two OST courses taught with learning activities that emphasize Individualism (individual-learning) or Collectivism (group-learning). After-activity surveys show that minoritized students (n = 68) prefer group- learning activities. Students rated group activities as more difficult and fun. Students also believed they learned more during group-learning activities. Their engagement and interest in lessons varied more widely during individual-learning activities. Pre- and post-course surveys reveal that the number of students interested in pursuing STEM and Geoscience increased from 43 to 54 and 11 to 16, respectively. The students' perceptions of geoscientists broadened to include scientists who study not only the Earth but also its history and governing processes. We interpret these results to mean that (1) educators may employ group-learning activities when they desire to increase task difficulty without sacrificing student engagement, and (2) individual- learning activities are less reliable means of engaging minoritized students. Our results imply that incorporating more group-learning activities in the classroom and field may improve Geoscience diversity since group-learning activities resonate more strongly with minoritized students' cultures.

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