Middle School Girls: Experiences In A Place-Based Education Science Classroom
Shea, Charlene K.
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The middle school years are a crucial time when girls’ science interest and participation decrease (Barton, Tan, O’Neill, Bautista-Guerra, & Brecklin, 2013). The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of middle school girls and their teacher in an eighth grade place-based education (PBE) science classroom. PBE strives to increase student recognition of the importance of educational concepts by reducing the disconnection between education and community (Gruenewald, 2008; Smith, 2007; Sobel, 2004). The current study provides two unique voices-- the teacher and her students. I describe how this teacher and her students perceived PBE science instruction impacting the girls’ participation in science and their willingness to pursue advanced science classes and science careers. The data were collected during the last three months of the girls’ last year of middle school by utilizing observations, interviews and artifacts of the teacher and her female students in their eighth grade PBE science class. The findings reveal how PBE strategies, including the co-creation of science curriculum, can encourage girls’ willingness to participate in advanced science education and pursue science careers. The implications of these findings support the use of PBE curricular strategies to encourage middle school girls to participate in advance science courses and science careers.