Dr. Heidi Carlone believes classroom expectations, along with the methods and practices of teachers, impacts the identity of “sciencey” children. When classroom pedagogy isn’t good, it is difficult for some students to perform well enough to be considered competent in such a setting. Some students who were once considered sciencey begin to diminish both in identity and performance when classroom pedagogy isn’t good. Carlone studies how students can develop a strong science identity amidst classroom expectations.

The findings of a two-year study drove Carlone to conceptualize an improved STEM learning environment for classroom science.  Carlone believes classrooms that promote teamwork and encourage students to explore multiple answers help students develop stronger scientific identities opposed to classrooms where students are encouraged to find one single correct answer. As a result, Carlone combined her design principles, which centers on capturing the myriad social identities and interests of youth with a curriculum created at the Museum of Science, Boston, called Engineering is Elementary, which teaches engineering through the use of storybooks, and depicting youth of multiple social, economic and cultural backgrounds. Together these two visions ensure social identities understand what it means to be scientific in a creative learning environment where all students feel free to share and have their ideas valued.

Read more about Dr. Carlone’s research here: http://research.uncg.edu/spotlight/smart-vs-sciencey/