Strategies for Inclusive Science Education to Promote Diversity in STEM

Even if it was a matter of fairness alone, promoting diversity in STEM would be an important task for educators and members of the scientific community alike. Moreover, there’s evidence to suggest that researchers from underrepresented backgrounds produce novel findings at rates surpassing members of majority groups. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America drew this conclusion while noting that minority scientists are less likely to benefit professionally from their innovation.

This means that K-12 educators have an important role to play. They can help promote a future where the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics benefit from the unique insights of all practitioners. Simultaneously, these teachers can help create a world in which people from all walks of life feel that STEM careers are achievable for them.

You can encourage a diverse range of students to pursue scientific advancements and ensure that all learners recognize the value of contributions from researchers of diverse backgrounds. To make it happen, here are some strategies for inclusive science education.

Instructional strategies for inclusive science education

These tools can help you promote diversity in STEM by implementing innovative teaching strategies.

Follow the Next Generation Science Standards

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are carefully designed to encourage students from all backgrounds to develop high-level scientific reasoning skills. According to the National Science Teaching Association, NGSS-aligned curricula accomplish this by:

  • Elevating engineering, which has deeper roots in a wider variety of cultural contexts.
  • Encouraging students to connect abstract concepts with concrete phenomena in their own communities.
  • Allowing for flexibility in language usage to support English language learners and others.
  • Facilitating connections among related disciplines for all students.

Take an active role to promote diversity in group projects

Collaboration is crucial for students to grow in their STEM development. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are attempting to understand how different group dynamics can expand or limit diversity efforts.

As a preliminary anecdotal finding, the researchers noted that students participating in a group project tended to self-select into certain roles. They found that girls often chose to be scribes while boys did coding. Teachers should be aware of these patterns and develop lessons that encourage all students to expand their skills.

Resources for inclusive science content

In addition to how you teach, what you teach can also help encourage students from diverse backgrounds to pursue STEM fields.

  • When you create slide presentations or other materials, consider using imagery from the IF/THEN collection, a free digital asset library highlighting women in STEM.
  • JKX Comics helps break down complicated scientific topics while highlighting contributions from a wide variety of researchers, including special entries for Black History Month and Women’s History Month.

Learn more about how educational tools and curricula from TCI can help you support budding scientists in your classroom.