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Black Girls Speak STEM: Counterstories of Informal and Formal Learning Experiences

By Natalie S. King and Rose M. Pringle

Abstract

This study presents the interpretations and perceptions of Black girls who participated in I AM STEM – a community-based informal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program. Using narrative inquiry, participants generated detailed accounts of their informal and formal STEM learning experiences. Critical race methodology informed this research to portray the dynamic and complex experiences of girls of color, whose stories have historically been silenced and misrepresented. The data sources for this qualitative study included individual interviews, student reflection journals, samples of student work, and researcher memos, which were triangulated to produce six robust counterstories. Excerpts of the counterstories are presented in this article. The major findings of this research revealed that I AM STEM ignited an interest in STEM learning through field trips and direct engagement in scientific phenomena that allowed the girls to become agentic in continuing their engagement in STEM activities throughout the year. This call to awaken the voices of Black girls to speak casts light on their experiences and challenges as STEM learners ⎯ from their perspectives. The findings confirm that when credence and counterspaces are given to Black girls, they are poised to reveal their luster toward STEM learning. This study provided a space for Black girls to reflect on their STEM learning experiences, formulate new understandings, and make connections between the informal and formal learning environments within the context of their everyday lives, thus offering a more holistic approach to STEM learning that occurs across settings and over a lifetime

Topics: Black girls; informal STEM learning; middle grades; counterstories; counterspaces; critical race feminism; equity, Curriculum and Instruction, Education, Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching
Publisher: ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University
Year: 2019
OAI identifier: oai:scholarworks.gsu.edu:mse_facpub-1144

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