Event: Undergraduate Research Symposium
Date: May 18, 2019
Location: UCI Student Center
Presenters: Michael Kongzeng Shao, Nicole Trieu, Nina Vilaysack
Mentor: Doron Zinger
Title: Emergent Social Justice Themes in a STEM Focused Teacher Preparation Program
One of the goals of U.S. instruction is to promote equity for all students, but this does not occur in all classrooms. To prepare future teachers for equitable instruction, UCI CalTeach, a STEM focused teacher preparation program, works to develop the social justice stances of its teacher candidates. To determine what components of social justice the program supports, we investigated how social justice appears in CalTeach coursework and the social justice stances of teacher candidates. We examined and analyzed all of the CalTeach coursework (readings and assignments) and identified emergent social justice themes. We also surveyed half of the 2019 CalTeach teacher candidate cohort (nine participants) and analyzed the participants’ responses for social justice themes. From coursework assignments and readings, the seven identified social justice themes included: socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, disability status, English Language Learner status, gender, and sociocultural and sociopolitical aspects of students and their communities. Our findings showed that the incorporation of these social justice themes in coursework increased throughout the four years of the program, with the highest emphasis in the third year. The three most frequent social justice themes that appeared in CalTeach coursework were sociocultural (32.3%), socioeconomic (19.4%), and race/ethnicity (16.1%). The social justice stances of the teacher candidates mirrored the two most frequent themes, sociocultural and socioeconomic status. Our findings suggest that social justice focused programs may need to expand their approach in order to provide students with more holistic social justice views and support wider ranges of issues.