A critical hermeneutic study: Third grade elementary African American students' views of the nature of science

Leon Walls, Purdue University


Nature of Science is one of the most fundamental aspects of understanding science. How different cultures, races and ethnicities see and interpret science differently is critical. However, the NOS views specific to African American teachers and learners have gone largely unresearched. The views of a purposeful sample of African American third grade children reported in this study contribute to efforts to make science equitable for all students. Conducted in two Midwest urban settings, within the students’ regular classrooms, three instruments were employed: Views of Nature of Science Elementary (an interview protocol), Elementary Draw a Scientist Test (a drawing activity supplemented by an explicating narrative), and Identify a Scientist (a simple select-a-photo technique supported by Likert-measured sureness). The responses provided by twenty-three students were coded using qualitative content analysis. The findings are represented in three main categories: Science - is governed by experimentation, invention and discovery teach us about the natural world, school is not the only setting for learning science; Scientists - intelligent, happy, studious men and women playing multiple roles, with distinct physical traits working in laboratories; Students - capable users and producers of science and who view science as fun. This study advocates for: use of such instruments for constant monitoring of student views, using the knowledge of these views to construct inquiry based science lessons, and increased research about students of color. ^




Lynn A. Bryan, Purdue University.

Subject Area

African American Studies|Black Studies|Education, Elementary|Education, Sciences

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