Sociology Management Assignment help on : Science education and students diversity in Australian classrooms
In the present times the science class rooms and science curriculum has been devoid of the relevant multicultural education and other cultural educations. As per several scientists science is pure and thus has certain influences on the current trends, current pedagogy, and mainly the cultural influences. With the rapid development in the science and technology, the need for its education has become vital for all the students. It has become vital for all the students residing all around the world to become scientifically literate. With the coming 21st century students not only need to have knowledge about specific subjects but also have some knowledge about some engineering, science and also possess some technology skills in order to collaborate and solve certain problems (Diverse Learners in the Science Classroom, 2007).
Even though some students have high interest in learning science however some find it difficult to learn. Engineering and science are said to be as the national assets that aids the nations to drive economic strength, innovation, maintain national security and bring leadership. Consequently the teacher in science classrooms must need to evaluate and understand the meaning of diversity and uses this knowledge in order to manage effectively the teaching style and classroom environment. Student diversity is associated with variations with respect to student’s populations in the classrooms based on several factors like beliefs, race, socioeconomic status, sexual category, cultural background, and mental and physical ability. The right understanding of the diversity in classroom helps the school in adopting the right ways and strategies to teach those students. The diversity and inclusion in the Australian schools represents a socially oriented and clear approach to develop and understanding the education system. The following text will covey a positive dimension to promote the implementation of the inclusion of the education associated policies in order to focus on the areas that provides challenges to teachers in the science learning environments (Diversity in science education, 2012).
The following report includes the discussion about the Science education and students diversity in Australian classrooms. The back ground information of the diverse learners has also been discussed in the report. The report also includes the description of the difficulties and challenges in science teaching due to diversity. The strategies that will be followed in order to face diversity in science education have also been discussed in the report. Finally a conclusion has been drawn in the report in order to provide the summary of the gathered information related to the topic of study.
Background informant on diverse learners in Australia
There are several and varied needs of the students in Australian classrooms. There are considerable numbers of students in Australian class rooms that speaks English as their second language and find several difficulties in understanding terms associated with sciences like problems associated with understanding certain vocabularies. This group of students mainly includes students who were born overseas or students who were aboriginal. This also brings in differences accompanied with social and cultural differences (Lee & Luykx, 2012).
The perception of science and scientists has come from the study of varied and different sources. These may include the study of personal experience with science in schools to a larger culture of one’s friends, family, or community. Analyzing the background information and past information’s it can be said that the representation of science in the past decade has been one of the most crucial topic of debate in the education of science in community. It can also be said that the science education needs to be highly responsive towards the tradition of the biasness and prejudice that has been existing in the culture of science from the time from when it has been domain of the privileged white males. As per the analysis it can be said that the model of science education that addresses and acknowledges these biasness’s will help to encourage to develop the scientific learning for people of colour, women and also several other underrepresented groups (Lee & Luykx, 2006).
These models may include several reforms to curriculum, assessment methods, instructions that takes into account several issues and factors like motivation, learning styles, cultural factors, motivation and role models. For the purpose of discussion about diversity in classroom, the report will discuss diversity in five dimensions i.e. ethnicity/race, gender, learning exceptionalities, socio economic culture, and linguistic differences. Other factors or elements like sexual orientation, urbanicity, and nationality might also have been discussed in the report but the five factors are among the one who have been the vital ones to be associated with the science education allocated in Australia.
Ethnicity/Race in science classrooms in Australia: Race and ethnicity differences are one of the vital parts of the science classrooms in Australia. In case of the science classrooms it has been seen that there are diverse students from different races and ethnicity. With this the teacher and schools must need to identify the vital methods which will help them to provide the students with knowledge associated with science. There are a major portion of student’s studying in schools and college level that are from different race, so it becomes vital for teachers to analyze and identify the methods that can be used in order to manage this diversity and can effectively provide science education. It can also be said that the differences in the ethnic and race impacts the teaching in the science class rooms. It is vital to look at all the races and ethnicity equally in order to bring them motivation and a sense of equality in order to teach and provide education in an appropriate manner. It can also be said that there are several students who attends the classrooms with inadequate resources for the learning of sciences. Racial discrimination was also one of the factors that have been seen in the past period which also affects the teaching and learning practices in the science classrooms (Diverse Learners in the Science Classroom 2007).
Gender in science classrooms in Australia: historically women and girls have faced certain inequality in their representation and participation in the practices of the natural sciences. Several women scientists have to overcome significant barriers in order to build their professional development. However with increased opportunities in the current period in science studies women or females are still not represented in higher numbers as per the national demographics. In the past period there was a lower level of diversity in terms of gender as majority of the people studying science and found in science classrooms were males as compared to female learners. Feminist’s critiques of the sciences and science educations have highly been ignored by the community of science and science studies. It also has been seen in the past that scientists have ignored the issue of equity in terms of gender in their profession. it is vital to see that in the current period the inequality in terms of gender has been decreased to a higher level which shows that teachers in science classrooms need to focus on the diversity and provide the women’s with equality and promote science studies for women also (Diverse Learners in the Science Classroom 2007).
Socioeconomic status in science class rooms in Australia: Though public schools are meant for making a high equalization in addressing the poverty in society, but looking at the background or past period it can be said that children’s in poor neighbourhood whether rural, urban or sub urban areas are less likely to get access to science education than the students who belongs to affluent families. It can also be said that this is also one of the vital factor which the teachers need to concern in order to make a proper classroom for delivering proper education.
Students with exceptionalities: Disability is also one of the factors which impact everyone either in a direct manner or indirect manner. People with disabilities can be seen everywhere and this is also evident that in classrooms it is vital to consider it in order to make the learning equal. People with disabilities are highly present in the market place due to several laws and discrimination policies of governments. This has led to the increased diversity in schools and also in science classrooms in Australia. In the past period it has been seen that people with disability has been actively involved in the class rooms and so is in the current period also (Diverse Learners in the Science Classroom 2007).
English language learners: Historically it has been seen that students who spoke other languages than English were not provided with instructions in science classrooms at the moment when they does not show intermediate conversation fluency. This factor has a large impact in the class rooms mainly in the science stream and teachers find it difficult to understand that language that are from different countries or have other language as their first language. This has resulted into doing the research for making the factor of diversity in schools and science classes (Brownlie , Feniak & Schnellert, 2006).
Science education difficulties due to diversity
Over the last decade, there has been a considerable increase in the population of diverse students in science education which has led to new challenges in science teaching. Following are the difficulties faced by students in science classrooms due to various forms of diversity present.
Diverse cultural background
The population of students in schools is becoming increasingly more diverse both at the linguistic and the cultural front. Students who have diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds come to the classrooms with the knowledge base that is previously constructed including various facts, such as their home language, cultural values, etc. that have been acquired and accumulated from the home environment and the community environment. The linguistic and cultural experiences that these students carry in classrooms might be discontinuous with various disciplines of science which have their traditional definition in Western modern science. In science classrooms, where are there are students from varying cultures, communities, learning abilities, the students often find a disconnection between their cultural values and knowledge, and disciplines of science, and also between the primary discourse that they have in their native community and home, and the secondary discourse they have in the school (Lee, 2003).
Understanding occurs when the new acquired knowledge is integrated with the prior knowledge as well as experience. Students with diverse language and cultural backgrounds, use of culturally familiar analogies, examples, etc. relates to the background of these students. However, this happens in rare cases. Often, traditional science textbooks and the related standardized curriculum do not take examples and analogies from different and varying cultures or backgrounds. Science teachers often assume that these culturally diverse students have no prior knowledge as they find difficulties in communicating with these students in the classroom so the assumption (Lee, 2003).
If the teacher considers science to be culture-free, he considers the diversity in the culture or the language in the classroom to be irrelevant to science education and learning. Furthermore, there is existence of a tendency in the western society for accepting the evolving and new discoveries of western modern science and considering it as the best avenue for gaining knowledge and understanding on how the world works. This leads to creation of dilemma among culturally diverse students of science when they study the subject as they are forced to accept the economic, social and political properties while receiving information on western modern science. There is presence of difference in attitudes towards science due to different cultural backgrounds (Lee & Luykx, 2006).
It is a big challenge for teachers to make the students know the western science and at the same time give due respect and access the beliefs, values, teachings and ideas of other minority culture students who are studying in the Australian classrooms.
Challenge of scientific Inquiry
In science education, there is emphasis on asking authentic questions generating from experiences of students. It poses difficulties among students as they find it difficult to get indulged in various stages of inquiry including asking of appropriate questions, synthesizing information, doing investigation, monitoring the process and drawing conclusions. The challenge is present for both teachers and students if the cultural teachings and values of the students expect them to accept the authority of teachers without raising any question rather than making students questioning and inquiring with teachers, exploring the knowledge or finding alternative solutions (Heinz et al, 2012).
Students who belong to the culture that does not promote extended or detailed responses may be perceived by teachers as having certain lack of comprehensive knowledge and understanding. Moreover, western science requires pupils to be skeptical, think independently, logical, criticizing views of others and indulging in logical arguments. This is in discontinuity with those cultural teachings that favour social and emotional support, cooperation, consensus building and acceptance of authority of teachers and adults. This creates difficulty for both teachers and students of science education in Australian classrooms.
Disabled children as a part of diversity
There are a large number of students with disability who science education in regular education classrooms. The problem for disabled children in getting science education is twofold. Science teachers usually do not have specific training or experience in teaching disabled children, and at the same time special educators have very little exposure to science. Students with disability are not taught science by special educators. They rarely teach the subject and whatever they teach is often limited to textbooks as their main aim is to accommodate students who have learning difficulties. In general science classrooms, disabled students usually find lack of responsiveness from science teachers in terms of making the environment adjustable for their learning. The teachers are not sensitive to individual needs of students, thus making no adjustable changes in instructional strategies or study materials for disabled pupils. Disabled students find it difficult to keep pace with normal average students in terms of understanding of scientific concepts, making inquiries and doing discussions with teachers, and drawing valid conclusions, thus end with acquiring poor grades in the course (Catering for diversity, 2012).
It is a major challenge for teachers and a difficulty for students with disability to get science education in regular classrooms as teaching materials as well as teaching studies are not adjusted or adapted to the learning needs of students with disability. Lack of training of teachers to take special care of these students and fulfil their need of inquiring and understanding science is the key to difficulty of disabled students in regular science classrooms.
Australian classrooms are highly diverse. It leads to facing of difficulties by students of language minority due to the reason that science is a subject that has a vast range of complex terms along-with conceptual and technical terminology. There are gaps between scientific language and everyday meaning of words in different languages. Students with linguistic backgrounds face difficulties in learning complex grammatical forms in scientific texts. There is need to make the academic scientific content accessible to all learners, thus promoting the concept of content and comprehensible learning and understanding of scientific concepts and terminology (Krockover, 2011).
Strategies for reducing diversity difficulties
The curriculum in Australia promotes justice and equity in classrooms. There is emphasis on equal learning for all and understanding learning needs of students at all academic levels. There is gap in science learning between students’ learning, and teaching of teachers. In order to fill this gap and reduce difficulties, there is requirement of adopting different pedagogy techniques integrating them with technology, so as to fulfil individual needs of diverse students in the Australian science classrooms. These strategies are as follows:
Training teachers for disabled students:
Science teachers at all the academic levels feel themselves to be inadequately prepared to meet the specific needs of disabled students and teach science to them. Providing considerable training to teachers in terms of understanding the specific needs of disabled science students and understanding their perspectives can reduce the gap in science learning.
Use of inclusive strategies by teachers by making adjustments to teaching, learning experiences of students and the assessment can reduce the difficulties faced by student with disability. Making adjustments in timing, setting, making presentations and seeking response can provide all students in the classroom including special students to demonstrate their learning (Norman et al, n.d.).
Teachers are required to provide useful alternatives to students with disability of any kind whether physical, cognitive or emotional, in the form of both instructional strategies and curriculum materials so that these students can engage in their lessons in a meaningful way. Making use of advanced and modern technology in the science classrooms in accordance with the needs of students with disabilities can solve the problem of gap in the pace of learning (Bacon & Drury, 1998). Modifications, such as use of advanced and graphic organizers, giving additional practice and time for completing assignments, and making use of technology to provide alternative media, such as audiotapes, large print materials and electronic materials can help students learn effectively. Moreover, adjustment in the standard curriculum materials can assist these students in their learning.
Creating cultural congruence
Creation of cultural congruence is another important strategy for coping with the challenge of teaching culturally diverse students by science teachers in Australian classrooms. When cultural experiences of students are used as intellectual resources, students from different cultural backgrounds and values can engage themselves in scientific practices. Use of culturally relevant study materials also increases the level and ease of students’ understanding of scientific concepts (Kafai et al, 2012). Instructional congruence in science education in classroom by mediating the discipline of science with the language and culture of students can make the scientific content meaningful as well as accessible to all the students learning in the classroom.
Use of familiar experiences and examples that are culturally rooted can make science accessible to culturally and linguistically diverse students in the same classroom where native Australians are also studying. In order to make the students aware of differences in scientific terminology and everyday cultural words, teachers can use cultural examples and analogies. For instance, temperature can be measured in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, denoting that a 38 degree fever can be a 100 degree fever to somebody else. Thus, students are made to realize that there are two methods for measuring the temperature (Lee, 2003).
Scientific practices require independent thoughts and collaboration. Some culturally diverse students might have values that teach them to remain sociable and in group rather than being independent. This challenge can be addressed by teachers to make students work independently while at the same time valuing the group work. For instance, assigning tasks to students in groups while making it compulsory for all students to make independent class presentations related to the assignment they are doing. It can inculcate the feeling of closeness to cultural values and beliefs of one’s own culture, and simultaneously meeting the requirement of science education and its procedures (Krockover, 2011).
Development of new modules of science lessons for linguistically heterogeneous classes can also reduce difficulties faced linguistically diverse students in the classrooms. Development of learning materials which integrate both the subject matter and the aspects of speech, with the help of the learning that has integrated both the content and the language can fill the gap identified in science education for students from diverse backgrounds. According to the report of ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority), the aim of the curriculum in Australia is to provide world-class education across the geographical boundaries and that of the school sector. This requires. Owing to this, development of cooperative as well as autonomous learning can answer the challenge of conflict between culturally different beliefs and scientific approach of inquiring, questioning and making logical arguments with teachers (The Shape of the Australian Curriculum, 2012).
Growing linguistic diversity of students in Australian classrooms demands an integrated learning of both the content of the subject in concern and the language. In order to give individual support to all science students in the classroom, first of all, there should be identification of competencies of pupils (Tytler, 2012). It can be done through association tests, linking of skills and concept mapping, and at last determining awareness of meaning of words. In the next step, designing of options for providing language support to pupils in the science class should take place. These options for support include content of the subject, language acquisition and identified individual competencies of diverse students in the classroom. Thus, providing explicit language support can do away with the difficulty of language problems in science classrooms.
Self paced study can be done promoted effectively with the assistance of technology. For instance, use of open access teaching laboratories where students can go and use the software according to their time and comfort in order to understand the course of the content can reduce the time given by teachers in making notes and preparing coursework. This time can be utilized by them to understand cultural differences of students regarding their knowledge of science via training (Catering for diversity, 2012).
Thus, with the help of use of effective instruction strategies, advanced technologies and an increased understanding of the linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds of science students, teachers in Australia can facilitate effective science teaching.
From the analysis of the above report it can be concluded that there is a high diversity found in the science classrooms which needs to be analyzed for the proper and effective teaching of the students. It can be said that students in the Australian classrooms have varied needs. It can also be concluded that there are a significant number of students who speaks English as their second language and finds difficulties in learning science due to several scientific terms and vocabularies. This can be concluded because students who were born in different backgrounds and aboriginal destinations than Australia. The language differences accompanied along with different social backgrounds. It can also be concluded that there are several factors that distinguishes the students in the class room and portrays the diversity in the class. Students with disabilities were also found in the science class rooms which also call for several factors like adoption of strategies and also make teachers to face several challenges.
It can also be concluded that the factors also includes the differences in the race and ethnicity which also makes it difficult for teachers to manage diversity in science classrooms. The differences in the race and ethnicity also bring several challenges to the teachers to teach in an effective manner. It also brings in several socio economic factors which also includes the diversity in the classrooms. Teachers need to follow several strategies in order to meet the challenges and provide students with adequate educations. It can also be concluded that there are several factors that impacts the way of teaching and learning science, because issues related to diversity stretches across several areas. Several strategies has been attempted to be addressed in order to mitigate the shortcomings of the diverse learning groups in the science classroom. Moreover the factors highlighted in the above report include racial factors, ethnicity, gender, cultural diversity and students with disabilities. It can also be concluded that several; strategies needs to be adopted by the teachers in order to face the diversity and bring in education in an effective manner.
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