November 29, 2018

Scientist Spotlight’s are helping change student perceptions

Jeff Schinske like many across the globe comes to think of himself as a scientist. He would soon look at his own class and notice that minorities were not doing as well as their privileged peers. He embarked on a mission to figure out why this is, and see how to change this. He developed a hypothesis; Students have to be able to envision themselves as being a part of the field to succeed. There are so many stereotypes out there about scientist, many of which can be very powerful. However, Jeff helped develop a way to test his hypothesis. It is a way for students to help see themselves as scientists. This would be known as Scientist Spotlights. The assignment itself is getting students to read about scientist who don’t fit the stereotypes, they can be a woman, a woman of color, or even a woman of color who is queer and grew up poor. From here the students answer some questions regarding the scientist’s research. These assignments will relate to the course curriculum. He discovered that these very assignments helped changed their views of who can be a scientist, and would lead them to identify as a scientist.


Jeff Schinske alongside a colleague of his from San Francisco State University were recently awarded a grant, which were based on these findings; this will seek to create assignments for students in middle and high schools around the Bay Area. He hopes to one day expand this globally, and this way people from around the world can access these homework assignments talking about diverse scientists.



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