Center for Curriculum Materials in Science

AAAS Project 2061, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, University of Michigan

CCMS Core Principles

Serving the needs of diverse science learners

A central goal of the Center for Curriculum Materials in Science (CCMS) is to learn how curriculum materials can contribute to achieving the goal of “science for all” by helping all students understand, appreciate, and value science. The Center is committed to advancing our understanding of how to nurture science learning among students with backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences that may differ widely from those of other students and from those of the scientists, science educators, and teachers who determine what they will be taught.

Students differ culturally, economically, linguistically, and socially. They may bring particular kinds of knowledge and experience that are unique to their cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, some of which may conflict with science. Students may also lack knowledge and experience necessary to engage in dialogue and collaboration around particular scientific concepts. They may not be familiar with instructional practices common in science classrooms, such as the need to explain their reasoning, and thus a teacher’s request to do so may appear confusing, or even insulting. To address these challenges, CCMS takes the position that high-quality science curriculum materials should teach science ideas using activities that are meaningful and relevant to a diverse group of students, incorporate multiple representations of scientific ideas, use phenomena that are likely to be interesting to a wide range of students, and position science as a way of knowing within a larger sociocultural context.

Research. One framework used in the Center’s research and development efforts in this area is the concept of “science as culture.” The idea that there is a culture of science, just as there are the varieties of ethnic cultures from which students come, draws attention to how students’ cultures do and do not intersect with the culture of science and with science learning. Research in this vein makes explicit the language, participation, achievement, and cultural backgrounds of teachers and students, compares them to the cultural values of science, and looks for ways to cross those “cultural borders.”

Leadership development. Through participation in research projects and other experiences, CCMS graduate students and postdoctoral fellows consider current needs pertaining to diversity, equity, science for all, and teaching science for understanding within the daily contexts of schooling. A major outcome of their work is progressively more refined definitions of diversity and equity as they relate to curriculum development and research. CCMS graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are deeply involved in the Center’s efforts to help build a consensus for that definition within the broader science education community.

Teacher development. The Center also recognizes that pre-service and in-service teachers need preparation and guidance in selecting and using curriculum materials that help to create a learning community in which all students are encouraged to meet high expectations, experience success, and enjoy a sense of belonging in the science classroom. To support teachers further, the Center’s research and development efforts are identifying strategies for designing curriculum materials that are educative and readily adaptable to the diverse needs of teachers and students.

[Core Principles References]

Text: AAAS Project 2061, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, University of Michigan
Text: Center for Curriculum Materials in Science