Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Allan Feldman


attitudes, interpretivism, marginalization, science identity, science practices



Providing equitable learning opportunities for all students has been a persistent issue for some time. This is evident by the science achievement gap that still exists between male and female students as well as between White and many non-White student populations (NCES, 2007, 2009, 2009b) and an underrepresentation of female, African-American, Hispanic, and Native Americans in many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related careers (NCES, 2009b). In addition to gender and ethnicity, socioeconomic status and linguistic differences are also factors that can marginalize students in the science classroom. One factor attributed to the achievement gap and low participation in STEM career is equitable access to resources including textbooks, laboratory equipment, qualified science teachers, and type of instruction. Extensive literature supports authentic science as one way of improving science learning. However, the majority of students do not have access to this type of resource. Additionally, extensive literature posits that culturally relevant pedagogy is one way of improving education. This study examines students' participation in an authentic science experience and argues that this is one way of providing culturally relevant pedagogy in science classrooms.

The purpose of this study was to better understand how marginalized students were affected by their participation in an authentic science experience, within the context of an algae biofuel project. Accordingly, an interpretivist approach was taken. Data were collected from pre/post surveys and tests, semi-structured interviews, student journals, and classroom observations. Data analysis used a mixed methods approach. The data from this study were analyzed to better understand whether students perceived the experience to be one of authentic science, as well as how students science identities, perceptions about who can do science, attitudes toward science, and learning of science practices were affected by participation in an authentic science experience. Findings indicated that participation in an authentic science experience has a positive effect on science identities, scientist perceptions, science attitudes, and learning of science and is one approach to mitigating the effects of marginalization in the science classroom. Additional findings indicated that a relationship between the authenticity of the experience and the outcomes (science identity, perceptions about who can do science, science attitudes, and learning of science). This study provides empirical evidence to support authentic science learning as a means of improving students' learning, attitudes, and identities with respect to science. This study endorses authentic science experiences for all students, marginalized included. This has implications for how we prepare future and support current science teachers. In addition, this study shows how this model can be used to effectively implement science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.