Virginia Association of Science Teachers

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  • JVSE Vol. 12, No. 2

In This Issue

From the Editors: Making Science Accessible to All Students  Amanda L. Gonczi, Ph.D. & Jennifer L. Maeng, Ph.D.

  • Lesson Activity: "Do You See What I see? Plant and Animals and Habitats, Oh My!"  Jennifer Maeng & Deannine Lahham

Abstract:  For young children, the distinction between an observation and an inference can be difficult to grasp, yet we use these skills in our daily lives and in many content areas. For example, we observe and infer both as we explore the natural world around us and as we read. Even more difficult for young students to understand is the idea that scientific knowledge, while durable, can change with new evidence. In this article, we describe an activity that introduces elementary aged students to plant and animal diversity while providing opportunities for them to practice making observations and inferences and distinguishing between different types of empirical evidence.
  • Sharing Solutions: "Lights, Camera, and a Call to Action: Women in Media Help Promote Science Identity in Female Students"  Uchenna Emenaha & Anne A. Perry

Abstract: Research shows that female students show lower interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects due to misconceptions that these courses are better suited for their male counterparts. This article explores the current representation of women in STEM and illustrates how media can be used to support female students’ STEM identity development. STEM identity development is a theoretical framework that describes the ability for an individual to identify or see themselves being able to do and/or be successful in STEM subjects (Brickhouse & Potter, 1999; Marcia & Kroger, 2011). The context of STEM identity development is created and recreated as students negotiate between the relevance, meaning and abilities between themselves and STEM subjects (Furnham, Chamorro-Premuzic, & McDougall, 2002). Academics wanting to understanding factors that can support positive STEM identities would benefit greatly from understanding the ways in which a student develops their academic identities within subjects like science and math. This article will discuss how media can be incorporated into instruction to work towards developing positive STEM identity in young female students. By investigating how to cultivate young girls’ interest in STEM in the early grades with media, educators can support students’ future STEM career aspirations. 
  • Research: "An Examination of the Oral Argumentation Abilities of Secondary Students with Disabilities Using Socioscientific Issues"  Mindy Gumpert & Bill McConnell

Abstract: More than six in ten students with disabilities (SWD) spend the majority of their day in the general education classroom (U.S. Department of Education, 2019). The expectation is SWD will participate in all content area activities alongside their nondisabled peers. Improving science literacy is an intrinsic goal of science education, yet current science practices may not support all students, particularly SWD. We believe argument using socioscientific issues is an effective way to support SWD in science by enabling them to engage in dialogue, discussion, and debate in scientific topics. SSIs are not only personally meaningful and engaging to the student, but the use of evidence-based reasoning provides a forum for understanding scientific topics (Zeidler, 2003). In this article we present an overview of an argument session and identify several scaffolds used in a classroom of diverse learners. We discuss how the modified Assessing Scientific Argumentation in the Classroom Observation Protocol (Sampson, Enderle, & Walker, 2012) was used as a summative assessment. Finally, we discuss differences and similarities between SWD and their nondisabled peers when engaging in argument using socioscientific issues.
    • Research: "Cross-disciplinary and Cross-cultural Impacts of Math Identity"  Joanna G. Jauchen & Talisa J. Jackson

    Abstract: While the number of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields is growing, the STEM community continues to have difficulty attracting and retaining female, Black and Latino/a students. Because a historical emphasis on achievement has failed to address this issue, researchers and practitioners are turning to other possible avenues to address the underrepresentation of women and minorities. In this study, we explore two factors that may impact the underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM: mathematical identity and science self-efficacy. This paper compiles findings from the literature and results from our regression analyses to shine light on the connection high school students’ mathematical identity has on students’ science self-efficacy. We further reflect on how teachers can cultivate their students’ mathematical identities, and work together to create equitable STEM spaces. 

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