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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: December 2009

11 - Research Agenda

Summary

Considering that research on diversity and equity in science education is a new and emerging literature, future research can pursue a multitude of issues in a multitude of ways. Virtually all of the areas discussed in this synthesis require further investigation. However, priorities for future research need to be identified in order to produce research outcomes that are rigorous, cumulative, and usable for educational practice. Some of the directions proposed here grow out of that literature which has shown particular promise for establishing a robust knowledge base, whereas others are proposed because the urgent need for a knowledge base in these areas has yet to be fulfilled by the limited research that exists.

Science Outcomes

One area ripe for investigation involves conceptions and measurement of science outcomes. Some research programs, especially those adopting a critical theory perspective, emphasize students' agency with regard to science, rather than more commonly recognized outcome measures based on academic achievement. Conceptions of science outcomes vary widely from one research program to another, and also tend to differ from classroom assessment practices, which continue to emphasize memorization of facts. While science educators (researchers, teachers, policymakers, and others) share the dual goals of improving science outcomes and eliminating gaps, existing research programs often do not address student outcomes, especially quantitative achievement data. Without arguing that such data should be the sole currency of educational research, they can provide an additional perspective that confirms or complicates narrative descriptions about other types of student outcomes, which are common in many research studies.