With support from the National Science Foundation, we’ve developed the Science House Framework for Access and Equity in STEM Education as a conceptual tool that summarizes our theoretical grounding, integrates research, drives the design of Science House PD experiences, and serves as a roadmap to the expertise and resources available to you as you make decisions about how to address STEM equity issues in your contexts.

Science House Professional Development

The Science House Framework for Access and Equity in STEM Education is composed of five lenses that individually and collectively contribute to creating inclusive learning environments. These lenses are informed by research from a variety of fields including education, sociology, systems science, social linguistics, social psychology, social justice, cultural studies, and public health.

Taken together, the lenses of the Framework support distributed leadership communities in: (1) developing an understanding of research tied to the lenses; (2) translating this research into practical strategies and mindsets related to STEM learning; (3) flexibly adapting those strategies and mindsets to suit local contexts; (4) designing and implementing actions appropriate to these settings; (5) evolving systems to meet the needs of each and every learner; and (6) engaging in continuous improvement efforts.

Below are links to descriptions of each Framework lens along with references:

Lens 1: Disparities and Inequities

This lens focuses on STEM educational outcomes, expectations, and school and district policies. It provides insight into (1) changing school and district demographics; (2) the disparities in resources and educational outcomes that exist in state and local STEM education systems; and (3) policies and underlying beliefs that maintain and are used to justify the disparities.

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Cobb, P. A., & Jackson, K. (2012). Analyzing educational policies: A learning design perspective. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21, 487-521.

Dufours, R., Dufours, R., Eaker, R., Many, T.  (2006) Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Communities at Work.  Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.

Hattie, J.  (2008). Visible learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement.  New York: Routledge.

Landsman, J. & Lewis, C.  (2006). White Teachers/Diverse Classrooms: A Guide to Building Inclusive Schools, Promoting High Expectations, and Eliminating Racism.  Sterling, VA: Stylus.

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Muhammad, A. (2009). Transforming school culture: How to overcome staff division. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Oakes, J., Gamoran, A., & Page, R.N.  (1992). Curriculum differentiation: opportunities, outcomes, and meanings. Inz: P.W. Jackson (Ed.). Handbook of research on curriculum: a project of the America Educational Research Association (pp. 570–608). New York: Macmillan.

Oakes, J. (2005). Keeping track: How schools structure inequality (2nd ed.). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Lens 2: Curriculum and Pedagogy

This lens focuses on culturally relevant STEM pedagogy and curriculum. It explores how the materials and structures in STEM education convey messages about race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender and engage or disengage students in different ways. Recognizing that STEM standards and curriculum are not ideologically neutral and working collaboratively to make the enacted curriculum culturally relevant for each student is demanding work; it requires educators to truly understand and value diverse perspectives and experiences of both their colleagues and their students. 

Bishop, R., Berryman, M., & Richardson, C. (2002). Te toi huarewa: effective teaching and learning in total immersion Maori language educational settings. Canadian Journal of Native Education 26(1):44–61.

Boutte, G., Kelly-Jackson, C., & Johnson, G.L. (2010). Culturally relevant teaching in science classrooms: Addressing academic achievement, cultural competence, and critical consciousness. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 12(2), 1-20.

Cohen, E.G. & Lotan, R.A. (2014). Designing groupwork: strategies for the heterogeneous classroom (3rd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.

Cohen, E.G. & Lotan, R.A. (Eds.). (1997). Working for equity in heterogeneous classrooms: Sociological theory in practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Delpit, L.D. (2012). Multiplication is for white people: Raising expectations for other people’s children. New York, NY: New Press.

Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition. New York: Continuum.

Gonzalez, N., Moll, L., & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge: theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. New York: Routledge.

Gutstein, E. (2005). Reading and Writing the World with Mathematics: Toward a Pedagogy for Social Justice. New York: Routledge.

Kumashiro, K. (2004). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice. New York: RoutledgeFalmer.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2006). Yes, But How Do We Do It? In: Landsman, J., editor. White Teachers/Diverse Classrooms. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

Rosebery, A., & Warren, B. (2008). Teaching Science to English Language Learners: Building on Students’ Strengths. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association Press.

Lens 3: Reconstructing the Nature and Culture of STEM

This lens examines the effects that classroom portrayals of STEM fields have on the engagement of students from underrepresented groups. Math and science have long been viewed as culturally neutral, objective disciplines that are primarily about learning facts and procedures. Yet science and math are practiced and used by people in specific historical and cultural contexts. As they interact with the world, people observe nature; identify and describe patterns; note quantities and how they change; and design, develop, and use tools, processes, and systems. The ways in which they do these things are grounded in culture. 

Aikenhead, G. S. (2006). Science Education for Everyday Life: Evidence-Based Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Brayboy, B.M.J. & Maughan, E. (2009). Indigenous knowledges and the story of the bean. Harvard Educational Review 79(1):1–21.

Cajete, G. (2000). Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Clear Light Publishers.

Chatman, L., Nelson, K., Strauss, E.J., Tanner, K.D., Atkin, J.M., Bullitt Bequette, M., & Phillips, M.  (2008).  Girls in Science: A Framework for Action.  Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association Press.

Gonzalez, N., Moll, L., & Amanti, C.  (2005).  Funds of knowledge: theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms.  New York: Routledge.

Harding, S. (1998).  Is science multicultural?: postcolonialisms, feminisms, and epistemologies. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Keeley, P.  (2005).  Science Curriculum Topic Study.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Keeley, P., & Rose, C. M.  (2006).  Mathematics Curriculum Topic Study.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Lederman, N. G. (2007).  Nature of Science: Past, Present, and Future.  In: S.K. Abell, & N. Lederman, (editors) Handbook of Research on Science Education.  New York:  Routledge.

Loucks-Horsley, S., Hewson, P., Love, N., & Stiles, K.  (2003).  Designing professional development for teachers of science and mathematics (2nd ed.).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.

National Research Council [NRC].  (2012).  A framework for K–12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Walkerdine, V.  (1990).  Difference, cognition, and mathematics education.  For the learning of mathematics 10(3):51–56.

Lens 4: Identity

This lens brings a focus to the idea that both learning and identity are socially and culturally constructed. STEM educators must be attentive to student learning and to the construction of students’ STEM identities. They must also understand that these identities are co-constructed with students’ racial, ethnic, dis/ability, gender, and SES identities. Deconstruction of social and cultural notions about what STEM is and who does it ultimately supports the growth of student identities that include “being the kind of people who would want to understand the world scientifically” (Brickhouse, Lowery, & Schultz, 2000, p. 443). 

Brickhouse, N.W.  (2001).  Embodying science: a feminist perspective on learning.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching 38(3):282–295.

Brickhouse, N.W., Lowery, P., & Schultz, K.  (2000).  What kind of girl does science: the construction of school science identities.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching 37(5):441–458.

Brown, A. L.  (1992).  Design experiments: theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings.  The Journal of the Learning Sciences 2(2):141–178.

Carlone, H., & Johnson, A.  (2007).  Understanding the science experiences of successful women of color: science identity as an analytic lens.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching 44:1187–1218.

Cobb, P. & Hodge, L.L.  (2007).  Culture, identity, and equity in the mathematics classroom.  In: N.S. Nasir & P. Cobb (Eds.).  Improving access to mathematics: diversity and equity in the classroom, pp. 159–172.  New York: Teachers College Press.

Dweck, C.  (1999)  Self theories: their role in motivation, personality, and development.  Philadelpia, PA: Psychology Press.

Gee, J. P. (2008).  Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in discourses.  New York: Routledge.

Lave, J. & Wenger, E.  (1991).  Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation.  Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Longmore, P. K., & Umansky, L.  (2001).  Introduction: Disability History: From the Margins to the Mainstream.In:P.K. Longmore & L. Umansky (Eds.).  The new disability history: American perspectives, pp. 1–32.  New York: New York University Press.

Martin, D.B. (2009). Researching race in mathematics. Teachers College Record 111(2):295–338.

Reich, C., Price, J., Rubin, E., & Steiner, M.  (2010).  Inclusion, disabilities and informal science learning: A CAISE inquiry group report.  Washington, DC: Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE).

Sato, M., Lensmire, T.J.  (2009).  Poverty and Payne:  Supporting Teachers To Work With Children of Poverty.  Phi Delta Kappan.  90(5):  365-370.

Lens 5:  Leadership in Complex Systems

This lens focuses on transforming communities. This lens developed out of (1) recognition that achieving equity in STEM education can not be accomplished by individuals working alone, and (2) a commitment to building strong leadership communities both regionally and within districts and schools. Transformation requires STEM education communities to go beyond technical strategies (curriculum adoptions, standards alignment, changes in class size or schedules, implementation of inquiry pedagogy) and to enact deep cultural change with the goal of universal student achievement.

Bradbury, H. & Lichtenstein, B.  (2000).  Relationality in organizational research: exploring the space between.  Organizational Science, 11:551–564.

Brown, K. M. (2004). Leadership for social justice and equity: Weaving a transformative framework and pedagogy. Educational Administrative Quarterly, 40(1), 79-110.

Carr, W. & Kemmis, S.  (1986).  Becoming critical: education, knowledge and action research.  London: Falmer Press.

Copland, M. A. (2003). Leadership of inquiry: Building and sustaining capacity for school improvement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 25(4), 375-395.

Dearing, J.  (2008).  Evolution of diffusion and dissemination theory.  Journal of Public Health Management Practice 14(2):99–108.

Ganz, M.  (2008).  Why stories matter.  Presentation at the Sojourners’ Training for Change Conference, Washington, D.C.

Gronn, P.  (2002).  Distributed leadership.  In: K. Leithwood & P. Hallinger (Eds.).  Second international handbook of educational leadership and administration, pp. 653–696.  Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Leithwood, K., Louis, K.S., Anderson, S., & Wahlstrom, K. (2004). Review of research: How leadership influences student learning. Retrieved from The Wallace Foundation website:

Lewis, C.C.  (2002).  Lesson study: a handbook of teacher-led instructional change.  Philadelphia, PA: Research for Better Schools.

Lichtenstein, B., Uhl-Bien, M., Marion, R., and Seers, A., Orton, J.D., Schreiber, C.  (2006).  Complexity leadership theory: an interactive perspective on leading in complex adaptive systems.  Management Department Faculty Publications, Paper 8.

Meadows, D. H., & Wright, D. (2008). Thinking in systems: A primer.  White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Pranis, K.  (2005).  The little book of circle processes: a new/old approach to peacemaking.  Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Rogers, E.  (2003).  Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.).  New York: Free Press.

Spillane, J. P.  (2006).  Distributed leadership.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Spillane, J. P., Diamond, J. B., Walker, L. J., Halverson, R., & Jita, L.  (2001).  Urban school leadership for elementary science instruction: identifying and activating resources in an undervalued school subject.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching 38(8):918–940.

Stanfield, B.  (2000).  The art of focused conversation: 100 ways to access group wisdom in the workplace.  Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers.

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