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Gender Equitable Curricula In High School Science And Engineering

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

K-12 Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.659.1 - 10.659.8



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Paper Authors

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Robert Sherwood

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Stacy Klein-Gardner

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Gender Equitable Curricula in High School Science and Engineering

Stacy S. Klein1, 2, 3,4, Robert D. Sherwood, 4 1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN / 2University School, Nashville, TN / 3Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN / 4Department of Teaching and Learning, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Abstract As part of a Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) supplement to the VaNTH Engineering Research Center for Bioengineering Educational Technologies (, an interdisciplinary group of secondary teachers and college faculty have come together to develop and field test new materials for secondary school science classrooms. The instructional units have as their starting point a “grand challenge” that not only assists the students using the materials to see a real world application of the science knowledge they will be learning but also serves as a focus for student understanding. For example, the grand challenge for the Optics Mosaic centers on the need for the student to select and justify a remedy to their mother's need to get rid of her glasses. Students study the fundamentals of optics within the context of solving this grand challenge.

Research has shown that young women learn science better when certain characteristics of the classroom and curriculum are met. Specifically, girls learn science better when the curriculum specifically links mathematics, science, and technology to the real world and integrates these topics as well. Girls learn well when the coursework is collaborative and utilizes girls’ verbal skills. Literature has also shown that girls learn science well in classrooms that use hands-on investigations while encouraging girls to be experts and technology controllers. These characteristics help girls to have a feeling of self-efficacy necessary to combat negative attitudes and personal disbeliefs. Girls’ interest in physics can be stimulated by relating content to prior experiences, encouraging discussion on the social importance of physics, and showing physics in relation to the human body. While acting as facilitators to higher cognitive functions, educators should encourage girls to concentrate on how the right answer is determined and not just what the right answer is.

Through ANCOVA analyses of pre- and post-tests in control and experimental classrooms, previous studies have established that the students in the experimental classrooms better learn the basic science in the instructional units previously mentioned than the control students. In most cases, the students in the experimental classrooms perform better on 'near-transfer' questions than their control classroom counterparts as well. Additional ANCOVA analyses on three of the curriculum mosaics, Hemodynamics (fluid dynamics of the circulatory system), Optics (LASIK and optics), and the Electrocardiogram (cardiac anatomy and physiology), were performed on the Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Sherwood, R., & Klein-Gardner, S. (2005, June), Gender Equitable Curricula In High School Science And Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15268

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