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Science Literacy and Text Book Biases

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Culture, Race, and Gender Issues

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1055.1 - 23.1055.11



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Paper Authors


Gisele Ragusa University of Southern California

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Dr. Gisele Ragusa is an associate professor at the University of Southern California (USC). She is jointly appointed in the Viterbi School of Engineering's Division of Engineering Education and the Rossier School of Education. Her research interests and areas of expertise include: engineering education, STEM college access, teacher education and retention, literacy education, content literacy, special education and deaf education as well as assessment and measurement in STEM education. She teaches courses in science education, measurement, literacy and language development, courses in learning and instructional theory, and teacher education research courses. She extensive expertise in assessment, psychometrics, advanced quantitative analyses, and multimodal research design.

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Science Literacy and Text Book biases AbstractEngineers and scientist utilize the principles and theories of science and mathematics to design,test, and manufacture products that are important to the future of a nation’s citizenry. With theexception of biological sciences, however, the percentage of college students seeking degrees inmath, science and engineering disciplines has been declining for the past two decades.Furthermore, fewer potential engineering majors are completing rigorous college preparatoryprograms and graduating in the top quarter of their high schools. This shortfall has raisedconcerns among leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, (STEM) fields.To meet the changing demands of the nation’s science and engineering labor force, recognitionof the importance of pre-college education intervention and implementation of challengingcurricula that captures and sustains middle and high school students’ achievement and interest inscience and engineering is critical.Textbooks are a common source of science in K-12 science education. Science literacy is a majorchallenge of students in K-12, which dramatically affects STEM K-12 achievement. Biases intexts negatively influences students’ science interest and achievement.This study explores the biases in middle and high school science texts. These biases includegender, race and ethnicity in texts in addition to research and socio-political biases. These biasesaffect students’ views of science as a field, as a career and as a college major. Achievement mayalso be affected. A qualitative rubric based analyses of various texts were conducted for thestudy. Results reveal dramatic biases particularly for middle school texts. Texts which focus onbiological sciences, are found to contain significant biases. These biases may influence futureworkforces in STEM fields.   1  

Ragusa, G. (2013, June), Science Literacy and Text Book Biases Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22440

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