Employing Justice-Oriented Curricula and Pedagogy to Support Elementary Teacher Candidates’ Future Science Teaching

by Daniel Alston, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; & Lenora Crabtree, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

An imperative shift in science education from approaches that emphasize access and identity to those that center justice will require both an inward critical analysis of science as a discipline and outward exploration of the role science might play in creating a more just society. Accordingly, future elementary science teachers need opportunities to consider how science education might be leveraged to create a more just and equitable society. However, many science teacher educators struggle to model justice-oriented pedagogies within discipline-specific instruction; employing justice-oriented approaches is especially challenging in elementary education programs. This manuscript will describe three justice-oriented curricular innovations which supported preservice elementary teachers as they learned to teach science to elementary students. Also described are the rationales for each curricular innovation and the impact of each innovation on student learning. We conclude with a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the curricular innovations, their generalizability and the relevance and need for justice-oriented curricular innovations in the current political climate.