A Practice-Based Approach to Designing Equitable Undergraduate Science Courses

January 26, 2018 3:00pm to 4:00pm PST
Erin S. Palmer, a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Group for Math and Science Education (SESAME), UC Berkeley
Sabriya Rosemond, Ph.D., Postdoctoral researcher, College of Chemistry, UC Berkeley


Erin S. Palmer is a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley in the Graduate Group for Math and Science Education (SESAME). Her research examines how narrow and exclusive notions of who and what counts as competent show up as barriers to equity in an undergraduate general chemistry course, and how these barriers can be undone through course redesign. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Arizona, a master’s degree in science education from Lehman College, CUNY and a master's in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.

Sabriya N. Rosemond is a postdoctoral researcher with a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley where she studied protein folding and thermodynamics. During her time as a graduate student she served as the inaugural Diversity Fellow for the synthetic biology engineering research center (Synberc). After completing her PhD she began work to continue working to support students with marginalizes identities by working as the Research Coordinator for the Biology Scholars Program while working wth Professor of Chemistry Angelica Stacy and SESAME graduate student Erin Palmer on the equity-centered redesign of a gateway course at UC Berkeley. Currently she is working to study how the course supported students.

Pervasive narratives about who and what counts as brilliant in science disproportionately impact students historically underrepresented in STEM, and are perpetuated in the design of STEM courses. We stand with equity-focused educators and scholars who assume that all students are brilliant and argue for the need to develop robust learning environments that support and recognize all students’ brilliance. While this work largely focuses on K-12 classrooms, we set out to completely reorganize an undergraduate level chemistry course that disrupts these larger narratives. We did this work by creating a data-centered chemistry curriculum that would engage students in the diverse practices of chemistry, and by explicitly communicating to students the ways in which their participation counted as scientifically competent. Altogether, our design aimed to support powerful chemistry learning and make space for students to recognize themselves as competent thinkers and doers of chemistry. During this webinar we will briefly describe our iterative process of redesigning this course, the organizing principles that inform our design and we will share preliminary findings.

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