, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 525-547,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 08 Mar 2011

Teaching science as a cultural way of knowing: merging authentic inquiry, nature of science, and multicultural strategies


Due to the growing number of students from populations underrepresented in the sciences, there is an intensified need to consider alternatives to traditional science instruction. Inquiry-based instructional approaches provide promise and possibility for engaging underrepresented students in the activities of science. However, inquiry-based instruction without culturally relevant pedagogy and instructional congruency, may not be sufficient to support non-mainstream students in science learning, and may even serve to challenge students’ cultural ways of knowing. This conceptual paper suggests that aligning reform efforts in science education to the field of multicultural education would buttress efforts to reach underrepresented student groups in science. This includes providing culturally relevant instruction and instruction toward making the assumptions of science explicit, in particular. To this end, this paper draws from literature in multicultural education to propose that deconstructing science through instruction in NOS may support Latino, African American and English language learning students in science learning.