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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Teaching Science to Those Who Have No Word for it

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 09/01/2007
End Date 06/30/2007
Funding Source Undergraduate Research in the Community Award
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 07/05/2008 01:25AM
Keywords Alaska Native

People

Faculty
  Ann Jache

Student Researchers
  Kimberly Beckford

Abstract

This project was designed to answer the following question: How can science education be improved for Alaska Native students? In 2001, not one student from a rural school district, where primarily Alaska Native students reside, passed the high school exit exam. Educators and researchers alike have investigated the roots of the problem; non-indigenous teachers unaware of cultural conduct, learning styles not addressed in western curriculum, and the curriculum itself have been considered. This question was investigated, through a partnership with The Imaginarium in Anchorage, Alaska, using an evaluation of the Yup'ik science curriculum, Yuungnaqpiallerput: The Way We Genuinely Live. The curriculum, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), was designed to improve science understanding through the use of culturally relevant concepts and tools. This project evaluated the effectiveness of the delivered curriculum in order to improve the way that science concepts are taught. The curriculum was taught in six different schools in the Southwest Region School District by two Imaginarium educators. Pre and post questionnaires were constructed and analyzed to assess 9-12th graders' understanding of science concepts before and after the curriculum was delivered. Additional data came from evaluation forms provided to the teachers regarding their opinion on the programs and an interview with an Alaska Native elder. The data collected shows that students did retain information learned in the science workshops they received. Teachers and elders both described the format and substance of the programs as a culturally appropriate method for teaching science.

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