“I think at first glance people would not expect me to be interested in science”: Exploring the racialized science experiences of high school students of color

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Journal of Research in Science Teaching







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The underrepresentation of high school students of color in advanced science courses and the need to increase racial diversity in science fields is well documented. The persistence of racial disparities in science suggests that factors influencing participation include and extend beyond those currently being explored. This study explores how high school students of color make sense of racialized narratives about who does and can do science in circulation in society and their lives, and how this shapes their positioning and identity construction in science. Using interviews and surveys this study examines youths' accounts of their racialized science experiences, including how they envision scientists, make sense of racial disparities in the science community, and navigate their positioning in science. In addition, this study examines how youths' sense of their science ability, as a salient aspect of science identity, shapes the forms of navigation accessible to them, and thus, the futures they imagine in science. By sharing the complexity of students' sense making and the tensions they express as they negotiate their personal goals, science experiences, and messages they receive from racialized narratives, findings highlight the disproportionate work youth of color in this study do, as well as their resilience to navigate racialized narratives in science. This research sheds light on the experiences of high school students of color at a time in their schooling when they are making decisions about who they can become and the possible futures available to them. Implications from this study promote centering race within a critical, sociocultural, and ecological context when exploring identity construction for youth of color in science. Furthermore, findings underscore the need to create learning experiences that provide opportunities for youth of color to author narratives for their own possibilities of belonging and becoming in science in order to support inclusive pathways.


science education, race, identity, equity, racialized narratives, youth of color, positioning, high school


Science Education; Teacher Education