The Conceptual and Disciplinary Segregation of Disability: a Phenomenography of Science Education Graduate Student Learning

  • Phillip A. BodaEmail author


Science teacher education has long sought to educate new science teachers to more fully understand “Science-for-all” and prepare them to effectively navigate diverse contexts. To adopt this “Science-for-all” mantra, we need to address what the labeling (i.e., categorical labeling and/or mislabeling) of students with disabilities means for science teacher education. This paper provides a critical inquiry to ground the claim that disability operates subversively and unrecognized as a marker of difference similar to labels that produce exclusion in science education (e.g., race, class, and gender). Using a phenomenographic design, this research studied graduate students’ conceptualizations of disability as they progressed through the only required diversity course at a large, urban university in the American northeast. Primary data sources included in-depth, pre-/post-course interviews with supplemental data collected from biweekly course reflections. Phenomenographic data analyses addressed to what extent these graduate students embraced a disability studies perspective relative to disability—i.e., viewing disability beyond merely individual deficit. Findings suggest that the course sustained the relatively static conceptualizations about disability held by the participants related to individual deficiency rather than pushing for more critical views of disability beyond deficiency. Implications are discussed in relation to multicultural science teacher education course goals.


Sociocultural theory Teacher cognition Phenomenography Science education Disability studies 



I would like to thank my dissertation sponsor, Dr. O. Roger Anderson, as well as my second reader, Dr. Felicia Moore Mensah, for their constant critique and support of my work at disciplinary and conceptual intersections not yet taken up fully in science education research.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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