Examination of factors which may contribute to the underrepresentation of African American teachers certified in science

Rita C. F Davis, Tennessee State University

Abstract

Throughout this country the student population is becoming increasingly diverse, yet the teacher population does not reflect this diversity. This lack of diversity in the teacher population deprives students of color from having role models of the same race/ethnicity who look like them and who might have experiences which are similar to theirs (Epstein, 2005; Nettles & Perna, 1997). Having role models from their own race in the classroom could have a positive impact on students' attitudes about science (Perine, 2003), and facilitate their learning of the subject matter, and give students an incentive to do well in school (Vegas, Murnane, & Willett, 2001). In 2000, a national survey study of math and science teachers was conducted (Horizon Research, 2001). The majority of biology (90%), chemistry (93%), and physics (94%) teachers who participated in the study were White. Findings of the study revealed that only 55% to 60% of these teachers considered themselves well prepared to effectively teach a culturally diverse student population (Banilower, 2002; Smith, 2002; Wood, 2002). The majority of the teacher pool, which is White, prefer not to teach in urban communities as they have a preference for teaching jobs in the nonurban communities that are similar to those in which they were raised (Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2005; Epstein, 2005). The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine factors that may contribute to the underrepresentation of African American teachers certified in science. More specifically, it was decided to examine the high school experiences of in-service teachers. Study participants were teachers and other certificated faculty in two school districts located in the southern portion of the United States. Findings of the study revealed a statistically significant relationship between a teacher's decision to become certified in science and the following high school experiences: teachers and guidance counselors encouraging students to consider a career in science; having confidence in one's academic ability in science class; good student-teacher relationships; teachers and guidance counselors encouraging students to take higher level science courses; teachers having high expectations, overall, for all of their students. Upon examination of these experiences, it was revealed that: not being encouraged as much as other students to take higher level science courses; being discouraged from taking higher level science courses more than other students; the lack of availability of advance level science courses; and not taking at least three science courses create barriers to African American teachers becoming certified in science.^

Subject Area

African American Studies|Black Studies|Education, Multilingual|Education, Sciences

Recommended Citation

Rita C. F Davis, "Examination of factors which may contribute to the underrepresentation of African American teachers certified in science" (2012). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3508187.
http://digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu/dissertations/AAI3508187

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