A metasynthesis of the complementarity of culturally responsive and inquiry-based science education in K-12 settings: Implications for advancing equitable science teaching and learning

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Journal of Research in Science Teaching, ISSN: 1098-2736, Vol: 54, Issue: 9, Page: 1143-1173

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Julie C. Brown
Social Sciences
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Employing metasynthesis as a method, this study examined 52 empirical articles on culturally relevant and responsive science education in K-12 settings to determine the nature and scope of complementarity between culturally responsive and inquiry-based science practices (i.e., science and engineering practices identified in the National Research Council's Framework for K-12 Science Education). The findings from this study indicate several areas of complementarity. Most often, the inquiry-based practices Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, and Developing and Using Models were used to advance culturally responsive instruction and assessment. The use and development of models, in particular, allowed students to explore scientific concepts through families’ funds of knowledge and explain content from Western science and Indigenous Knowledge perspectives. Moreover, students frequently Analyzed and Interpreted Data when interrogating science content in sociopolitical consciousness-raising experiences, such as identifying pollution and asthma incidences in an urban area according to neighborhood location. Specific inquiry-based practices were underutilized when advancing culturally responsive science instruction, though. For example, Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking and Engaging in Argument from Evidence were infrequently encountered. However, culturally responsive engineering-related practices were most often connected with these, and thus, represent potential areas for future complementarity, particularly as the United States embraces the Next Generation Science Standards. In considering innovative directions for advancing equitable science education, several possibilities are discussed in light of the findings of this study.© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 54:1143–1173, 2017.