The Scientist Spotlights Initiative: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Science through Development, Assessment, and Dissemination of Curriculum Supplements that Bring Rare Science Role Models to Students Project Summary/Abstract San Francisco State University (SFSU) and Foothill Community College – in strong collaboration with the San Francisco public schools, the California Academy of Sciences, Story Collider, and Science Friday – propose The Scientist Spotlights Initiative: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Science through Development, Assessment, and Dissemination of Curriculum Supplements that Bring Rare Science Role Models to Students.
Research into science identity, science belonging, stereotype threat, and possible selves suggests a lack of diverse representations of scientists is impeding traditionally under-represented students from persisting and succeeding in science from middle school through college. Access to diverse role models in science appears to be key; however, bringing diverse scientists directly to classrooms is simply not feasible as a regular part of the science curriculum. Science instructors at all levels – middle school, high school, community college, and university – are enthusiastic about promoting inclusion in science, bringing diverse role models to classrooms, and connecting these real scientists to students’ learning experiences. However, few curricular materials currently exist that support teachers in regularly and systematically connecting diverse role models and science careers to students and the content they teach.
In previous efforts, we have evaluated a series of metacognitive homework assignments – Scientist Spotlights – that featured counter-stereotypical examples of scientists in an introductory biology class at a diverse community college. Scientist Spotlights additionally served as tools to engage students in content, as scientists were selected to match topics covered each week. Research on the impact of Scientist Spotlight interventions revealed that these simple curriculum supplements shifted students’ ideas towards counter-stereotypical descriptions of scientists and enhanced their ability to personally relate to scientists. As Scientist Spotlights require very little class time and complement existing curricula, they represent a promising tool for enhancing science identity, shifting stereotypes, and connecting content to issues of equity and diversity in a broad range of STEM classrooms, from middle school through university.
Over 5 years, we anticipate developing, piloting, and assessing ~200 unique Scientist Spotlight curriculum supplements that would allow science instructors from middle to high school to community college to integrate diversity explicitly into their courses, engaging ~40 non-traditional college-level students/year and ~12 science teachers/year in implementing and assessing Scientist Spotlights in their classrooms with ~1,500 enrolled students, establishing service-learning courses to institutionalize these efforts, continuing our record of publishing research on such efforts with SEPAL postdoctoral scholars, producing an accessible Scientists Spotlights Initiative website to make materials widely available, and disseminating the effort in collaboration with school, museum, and media partners.