Designing for culturally responsive science education through professional development

Julie C. Brown, Kent J. Crippen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Educational stakeholders across the globe are demanding science education reform that attends simultaneously to culturally diverse students’ needs and promotes academic excellence. Although professional development programs can foster science teachers’ growth as culturally responsive educators, effective supports to this end are not well identified. This study examined associations between specific Science Teachers are Responsive to Students (STARTS) program activities and United States high school life science teachers’ understanding and enactment of culturally responsive science teaching. Findings suggest: (a) critically examining their practices while learning of students’ needs and experiences enabled teachers to identify responsive instructional strategies and relevant science topics for culturally responsive teaching; (b) evaluating culturally responsive exemplars while identifying classroom-based needs allowed teachers to identify contextually appropriate instruction, thereby yielding a robust understanding of the purpose and feasibility of culturally responsive science teaching; and (c) by justifying the use of responsive and reform-based instructional strategies for their classrooms, teachers made purposeful connections between students’ experiences and science instruction. We propose a set of empirically based design conjectures and theoretical conjectures to generate adaptable knowledge about preparing culturally responsive science teachers through professional development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-492
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 11 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Taylor & Francis.


  • Design-based research
  • culturally responsive science teaching
  • professional development


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