Curricular change for social justice: Teaching science by drawing on students’ lived rural home experiences in higher education


The likely presentation of scientific knowledge as faithful copies of reality, as well as orderly activities from science textbooks, could lead novice students in the field of science to believe that the learning of scientific concepts such as accuracy, precision, and methods such as observations, among others, may only take place in the classroom. Contrary to how scientific concepts and methods are normally presented by means of empirical qualitative data, in this article, I argue that the abovementioned concepts and methods are likely to be encountered in the local rural home environments of students. Data was sourced from focus group interviews that were conducted with second-year science students at one of the historically white and privileged institutions in South Africa. This article aims to contribute in theoretically informed ways in terms of enhancing equity of success and social justice in the field of science in higher education. Social justice issues were conceptualized through Nancy Fraser’s normative framework of social justice. From this understanding, an argument is put forward that a sociological framework of critical realism and social realism has the potential to draw the scientific world into the social world. From this sociological framework, it is possible to develop an understanding of students’ prior experience and to draw on it in the classroom for better educational outcomes.
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