Basu - JRST 2008

How students design and enact physics lessons: Five immigrant caribbean youth and the cultivation of student voice
J Res Sci Teach 45: 881-899, 2008

Sreyashi Jhumki Basu

An array of data suggests that low-income, minority students are excluded from a high-quality physics education. The education literature proposes that cultivating student voice in classrooms helps youth feel a deeper, more meaningful connection with school. However, limited data exist in the physics education literature on how student voice is expressed. The purpose of this study was to use critical ethnography to explore how student voice developed in the context of a ninth-grade conceptual physics class. I developed case studies of five immigrant Caribbean youth from student, family and teacher interviews, participant observations and field notes. I relied on grounded theory as an analytic technique. Findings suggest that in expressing voice, youth designed lessons reflective of their identities, leveraged and enhanced their epistemic and positional authority (two new constructs I propose in this manuscript), and creatively utilized physics and school-sponsored resources. This information about how students express voice has implications for how they learn physics, how critical theory is connected with physics classroom practice, and how student identity, shared authority and youth agency develop in physics classrooms.