Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Science Education

First Advisor

Soonhye Park

Abstract

The Hispanic population in the United States experiences many challenges in education that have placed them behind their Euro-American counterparts in terms of achievement. These challenges are associated with socioeconomic status and family structure, educational expectations, cognitive skills, and low-quality schooling in the elementary grades. The purpose of this study was to examine how Hispanic students construct science learning in an argument-based inquiry classroom. This research constitutes a qualitative case study grounded in a sociocultural constructivist framework. Data was collected using a variety of qualitative techniques, including nonparticipant observations, analysis of semi-structured interviews, audio recordings, transcription, and observations. The focal participants of this study are three Latino/Hispanic students, two in fifth grade and one in fourth grade. Findings indicated that the two aspects of an argument-based inquiry approach impact students learning in science under diverse conditions. Students also encounter particular challenges while they are involved in this learning context.

Public Abstract

The Hispanic population in the United States experiences many challenges in education that have placed them behind their Euro-American counterparts in terms of achievement. These challenges are associated with socioeconomic status and family structure, educational expectations, and low-quality schooling in the elementary grades. The purpose of this case study was to examine how Hispanic students constructed science learning in their science inquiry. Data was collected using a variety of qualitative techniques, including nonparticipant observations, analysis of semi-structured interviews, audio recordings, transcription, and observations. The focal participants of this study were three Hispanic students, two in fifth grade and one in fourth grade. Findings indicated that the two aspects of science inquiry approach (laboratory activities and negotiation) impacted students’ learning in science under diverse factors. These factors included importance of dialogue, importance of classroom setting (grouping and time allotment), and importance of various learning tools. Students also encountered particular challenges while they were involved in this learning context. These challenges involved developing connections between claims and evidence, classroom routines and decisions, administrative decisions of the school, issues associated with group conforming or pairing up students, and language issues. This study provides implications for science education policies, teaching practices, and research in science learning improvement for minority students.

Keywords

publicabstract

Pages

xiv, 299 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 283-299).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Claudia P. Aguirre-Mendez

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