Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM
TRANSFORMING NATIVE AMERICAN YOUTHS' PERCEPTION OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH GEOSCIENCE AND THEMSELVES THROUGH A CONNECTION WITH CULTURE AND CONTEXT
The importance of diverse perspectives in the geosciences has precipitated a movement to find inclusive educational practices (Riggs, 2004). As indigenous people and geoscientists increasingly interact, it has become imperative that each gain fluency in both indigenous knowledge and Western Earth sciences. However, few Earth science programs consider the cultural milieu from which students approach their studies (Aikenhead, 1996). Sharing the Land (StL), a program for Native American youth in California, considers geoscience education from a culturally appropriate prospective (Riggs, et al. 2007). Throughout the program, the youth partake in activities that cultivate an understanding geology, environmental science and current geoscience issues by embedding each activity in local culture. Activities are guided by members of local Native American communities, professors and students from various universities, and specialists in certain fields, such as geology and botany. StL has been shown to be efficacious in transforming youths’ perceptions of themselves and their culture as using science (Unsworth, Riggs & Chavez 2012). The aim of this research is to elucidate which components of Sharing the Land contribute to this shift. In order to accomplish this, a series of pre-surveys and post-surveys are completed by each youth attending the Sharing the Land program in California. These surveys are used to explore the youths’ relationship with their culture, perception of their future-identity and connections with other people. Furthermore, three to four youth are chosen from each program to participate in semi-structured interviews, once before the program begins and twice after. Thus far, themes of self-nature connectedness, cultural identity and community support appear to be important factors. By understanding how StL is effective, we may be able to foster similar programs or classroom applications, thereby increasing Native American youths’ interest and literacy in science.