STEM Center Colloquium: The Meaning Beyond the Words: How Language, Race, & Culture Impact Science Teaching & Learning

Logo representing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math


April 14, 2017


10:00am - 11:00am


SZB 324


Bryan A. Brown, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Science Education at Stanford University, explores how race, culture, and language intersect to create the condition of contemporary learning. For years, research on the language of classrooms explored how the way we say things impacts students’ sense of belonging. Despite this research, Science and Technology Education have failed to adequately explore how issues of race, language, and culture shape the outcomes of teaching and learning in science.

Through a sequence of research, this presentation explores the theoretical and pragmatic aspects of this dilemma. From a theoretical perspective, the talk will explore the Language-Identity dilemma. As students learn, the way academic language is taught to them can present a cognitive and cultural conflict. From a cognitive perspective, if science is taughtwithout respect to the implications of how language is learned, students can be misunderstood and misunderstand the teacher’s complex discourse. From a culturalconflict perspective, students may feel they are cultural outsiders when the language of the classroom positions them as outsiders.

The presentation provides an overview of a series of qualitative and quantitative experiments that document the realities of this complex interaction.