PBS NC Loves Science Teachers - May 2021

Girls in Science: A Framework for Action

by: Liesl Chatman, Katherine Nielsen, Erin J. Strauss, and Kimberly D. Tanner

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Behind the stereotype of girls’ not doing well in science are some reasons, mostly based on one fact: They are often—and most often inadvertently—treated differently in the classroom. The authors of Girls in Science engaged in years of working under a grant funded by the National Science Foundation on this all-too-real problem of gender-equitable science teaching. What they found through working with students, teachers, and scientists— the three elements of the Triad community in which their research started—can change the way you teach and level the playing field of science education for girls.

The Triad refers also to the Student Goals, the Teaching Goals, and the Science Goals – there are five in each area—that lie at the heart of the book. Each of the 15 goals is supported by an essay, strategies, and brief vignettes that will help teachers and students reach the goal. The vignettes, written by teachers and scientists involved in the project, illustrate the strategies. They illuminate problems and provoke the reader to find remedies through the use of reflection questions and links to similar vignettes. For the Student Goal of “Confidence to Explore,” for instance, one of the three strategies is “Knowing that I learn when I make mistakes.” The five vignettes supporting the strategies include “After the Initial Eewww,” “No Longer the Same,” and “No Step-by-Step Instructions.”

Girls in Science is valuable for more than issues of gender equity. As their work progressed, the authors realized what they were learning could be adapted to help with equitable teaching for other groups of students; special-needs students, English language learners, and ethnic and racial minorities, for example.

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