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Making science accessible through collaborative science teacher action research on feminist pedagogy

Brenda M Capobianco, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The underrepresentation of women and minorities in science is an extensively studied yet persistent concern of our society. Major reform movements in science education suggest that better teaching, higher standards, and sensitivity to student differences can overcome long-standing obstacles to participation among women and minorities. In response to these major reform movements, researchers have suggested teachers transform their goals, science content, and instructional practices to make science more attractive and inviting to all students, particularly young women and minorities (Barton, 1998; Brickhouse, 1994; Mayberry & Rees, 1999; Rodriguez, 1999; Roychoudhury, Tippins, & Nichols, 1995). One of the more dominant approaches currently heralded is the use of feminist pedagogy in science education. The purpose of this study was to examine the ways eleven middle and high school science teachers worked collaboratively to engage in systematic, self-critical inquiry of their own practice and join with other science teachers to engage in collaborative conversations in effort to transform their practice for a more equitable science education. Data were gathered via semi-structured interviews, whole group discussions, classroom observations, and review of supporting documents. Data analysis was based on grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) and open coding (Miles and Huberman, 1994). This study described the collective processes the science teachers and university researcher employed to facilitate regular collaborative action research meetings over the course of six months. Findings indicated that engaging in collaborative action research allowed teachers to gain new knowledge about feminist science teaching, generate a cluster of pedagogical possibilities for inclusive pedagogy, and enhance their understanding for science teaching. Additional findings indicated dilemmas teachers experienced including resistance to a feminist agenda and concerns for validity in action research. This study revealed that there are no uniform solutions or standard methods to address issues of equity and accessibility in science education. This study recommends teachers be given time, support, and freedom to collaborate with other teacher-researchers, enact decisions for change, and reflect on and make public the results of their work. Additional implications suggest science teacher educators collaborate with practicing science teachers to devise practical applications and feasible resources for a wider audience.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Science education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Capobianco, Brenda M, "Making science accessible through collaborative science teacher action research on feminist pedagogy" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056205.