Girls Doing Science: A Case Study of Science Literacy in All-Female Middle Grade Classrooms
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CitationFaller, Susan Elisabeth. 2014. Girls Doing Science: A Case Study of Science Literacy in All-Female Middle Grade Classrooms. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractIn the face of low adolescent literacy rates (NCES, 2012), concerns about the nation’s prospects of remaining competitive in science and technology (Hill, Corbett, & St. Rose, 2010), a persistent gender gap in science (NCES, 2012; Reilly, 2012), and the continued rollout of college- and career-ready standards, there is a need to focus on adolescent girls’ science literacy. Such science literacy involves not only general knowledge about science, but also the ability to engage in the advanced reading and writing practices fundamental to doing science (Norris & Phillips, 2003). In this thesis, I present three articles with findings that respond to this need. They are the results of a multiple-case embedded (Yin, 2009) study that I conducted over the course of 7 months in four science classrooms (grades 5 through 8; 50 students) taught by a single teacher in a small all-female middle school. I collected in-depth data focused on science literacy from multiple sources, including (a) fieldnotes (Emerson, Fretz & Shaw, 2011), (b) videorecorded classroom observations (102 classes, 113 hours, recorded on 29 days), (c) a survey of all students, (d) semi-structured interviews with the subsample of 12 focal students (ranging from 18 to 37 minutes) and (e) photographs of classroom artifacts and student work.
In the first article, I provide a window into standard literacy practices in science classrooms by examining the reading and writing genres to which students are exposed. In the second article, I examine how a teacher’s language and instructional practices within her classrooms, and popular images of science from the world beyond their classrooms might shape adolescent girls’ science identities. Finally, in the third article, I explore different aspects of science identity using the words of three case study students. Taken together, these studies fill gaps in the literature by investigating science literacy in an understudied context, all-female classrooms. In addition, they give voice to a group often underrepresented in studies of science (i.e., primarily nonwhite girls from working class families, many of whom speak English as a second language.) Thus this thesis provides new insights for researchers as well as teachers interested in science literacy and persistent gaps in science achievement.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:13383547