Bringing Australia’s diversity into science education

Pfeiffer, Linda and Fitzgerald, Angela and Woolcott, Geoff (2018) Bringing Australia’s diversity into science education. In: Teaching secondary science: theory and practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, pp. 394-415. ISBN 978-1-316-63611-4




After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
• describe the importance of differentiation in science education
• understand how practical approaches to cultural differences can foster students’ different ways of knowing science
• recognise the role of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in developing practical approaches to inclusion of disability in science education
• explain how families and communities of students of differing socioeconomic statuses can provide quality practical approaches to science learning and teaching
• develop practical science learning opportunities for students living in different geographic localities.


This chapter is the ‘mirror’ chapter to Chapter 1.9. It provides practical examples related to the theoretical outlines in Chapter 1.9 with a focus on the four different categories of diversity outlined in Chapter 1.9, diversity in cultural background, disability, socioeconomic status and geographic location. Bearing in mind, of course, that students may have diverse needs that cross over more than one of these areas. It is important to note that in a classroom environment every single student has a diverse range of needs.

The ways in which the diverse needs of students can be catered for when teaching science include:
• utilising pedagogies and strategies that enhance science learning, such as the 5Es mode of inquiry (see Chapter 1.3 and Chapter 2.3)
• hands-on investigations
• problem-based learning
• ensuring science lessons are relevant and contextual.

Hands-on investigations that allow for students from family backgrounds with low science education or careers in science need to be structured to enhance and support students. Support needs to be provided in the science classroom, such as resources, structure and scaffolding. Group work is another way that students with low confidence or prior experiences with science can learn from one another and increase confidence.

Problem-based learning requires researching, experimenting and testing solutions to a problem. Using relevant and contextual real problems can increase the confidence of your students to get involved in scientific investigations. You will need to use diagnostic tools to determine your student's prior experiences and background each time you begin a new topic or unit of work. Including parents and the local community can assist in creating meaningful, relevant and contextual learning experiences.

We all learn differently and there are a number of different ways of learning that need to be catered for within the one classroom.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published Chapter, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood (1 Jul 2013 - 30 Jun 2019)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood (1 Jul 2013 - 30 Jun 2019)
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2018 01:41
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 06:02
Uncontrolled Keywords: science education; diversity
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130105 Primary Education (excl. Maori)
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130106 Secondary Education
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390304 Primary education
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390113 Science, technology and engineering curriculum and pedagogy
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390306 Secondary education
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