Culturally Responsive & Inclusive Curriculum Resources: STEM

Examples & Recommended Readings from STEM Disciplines

Selected items from the model of culturally responsive teaching from Hernandez, C. M., Morales, A. R., & Shroyer, M. G. (2013). The development of a model of culturally responsive science and mathematics teaching. Cultural Studies of Science Education8(4), 803-820.

Content Integration

  • Incorporating information and/or examples from different cultures.
  • Making connections to students’ everyday lives.
  • Building of a safe learning environment to participate in classroom discussions without fear of reprisals or negative comments from the teacher.

Facilitating Knowledge Construction

  • Demonstrating the ability to build on students’ background/ prior knowledge as a means to making science and math concepts accessible.
  • Using ‘real world’ examples during science and math lessons, especially when introducing new concepts.

Academic Development

  • Using a variety of methods to create learning opportunities. 
  • Using visuals, grouping, and hands-on or manipulatives during instruction in order to assist their students in meeting the objectives of the science and math lessons. 
  • Using modeling to illustrate difficult science and math concepts.

Jett, C. C. (2013). Culturally Responsive Collegiate Mathematics Education: Implications for African American Students. Interdisciplinary Journal of Teaching and Learning 3(2), 102-116.

  • Treat students as "mathematically competent cultural beings."..."Empower students to take hold of and internalize positive affirmations concerning their mathematical abilities." (p. 110) 
  • Bring forward students' interests and cultural heritage, and use this information to " mathematics tasks, problems, and projects as well as to validate students’ cultural identities in the mathematics space." (p. 111)
  • "...[L]isten to and value my students’ voices and embrace critical dialogue, whether it happens in small collaborative problem-solving groups or as a professional learning community." (p. 111) 

Kleinman, Zoe. ( 4/14/17) Artificial Intelligence: How to Avoid Racist Algorithms." BBC News, Technology.

Not an article about teaching per se, but a good example of an issue in computer science that speaks to the theme of cultural responsiveness that could be included in a class.

McGee, E., & Bentley, L. (2017). The Equity Ethic: Black and Latinx College Students Reengineering Their STEM Careers toward Justice. American Journal of Education, 124(1), 1-36.

"Part of the discourse in STEM classrooms should pertain to how science and technology can be used to ameliorate human suffering and address environmental issues. These conversations should be explored as a means to maintain and increase student satisfaction and engagement,as some students in this study expressed frustration at the lack of humanitarian values in their STEM fields....Studies have been done that point to diversity as a means to fuel innovation, but the present study contributes to the literature by suggesting that a more diverse workforce could direct and harness technological output in ways that diminish health, economic, environmental, and quality-of-life disparities." (p. 28)

Portland State Course Proposal Example: BI 460

BI 460, Marine Biology, prepared by Annie Lindgren

Diversity Perspectives: This course serves pre-health and life science majors interested in expanding their knowledge in science-related fields. It aims to make scientific content more accessible to a wider array of students via engaging subject matter and a shift in pedagogy. First, the nature of deep-sea biology is exciting and engaging and can often make complex, or "boring" topics more tractable. For example, students are quicker to learn what an "oxidation reduction" reaction is when they learn how these reactions fuel an extreme deep sea hydrothermal vent ecosystem, comprised of bacteria, worms, fishes, shrimps and other animals, all living at near boiling temperatures, thousands of feet underwater. Second, to reduce the pressure of academic "perfection" which often negatively impacts students, this course utilizes a growth mindset pedagogy, which strives meets students at their current level and encourage them to grow.  The focus is shifted away from pushing students to be the "best in the class" to giving students the space to push themselves to continue to be academically challenged, be that working hard to get a C- or an A. Furthermore, this course aims to "break the wall" between faculty and students to make learning more accessible. To encourage student engagement the course size is limited to 20 students and taught in a classroom with grouped tables, rather than individual desks, all of which can be moved as needed. To make discussions less intimidating, students will work in teams of 4-5, where members will take turns "leading" a paper discussion. These student-led discussions have proved immensely successful in past upper division courses taught by Dr. Lindgren - the level of interaction among students is increased ten-fold. Lastly, the Marine Biology courses taught by Dr. Lindgren over the past 6 years have historically served >50% women (sometimes closer to 85 or 90%) and a growing number of minority students. To show students that science is a field growing in diversity and thus encourage them to stay in STEM fields, content, from videos and reading assignments, is built around representing all voices in science.

Diversity Engagement: This course builds a safe, accessible learning environment where students contribute to discussions without fear of reprisal or negative comments. The small course size is limited to 20 students and taught in a classroom with grouped tables, rather than individual desks, all of which can be moved as needed to accommodate different activities and learning needs.

To encourage student engagement and "break the wall" between faculty and students, this course utilizes discussions in addition to standard lectures and testing. Students work in teams of 4-5, where members will take turns "leading" a paper discussion. By removing the faculty “expert” students are more comfortable to speak freely and express their ideas without worrying about being “right.” These student-led discussions allow students to become engaged and help teach their peers and have proved immensely successful in past, increasing the level of interaction among students significantly.