Re-engaging Disadvantaged Youth through Science: Developing a Framework of Practice

By Kimberley Luanne Wilson, David Lake and Sue McGinty.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Edmund Rice Education Australia Flexible Learning Centres (EREAFLCs) operate within a social inclusion framework to ‘walk with’ young people who have disengaged from the traditional schooling system. Students attending the centres face multiple stressors in their everyday life as well as significant barriers to achieving success in the classroom environment. Addressing the immediate literacy and numeracy concerns of students as they present at the centres has left little time to develop strategies for engaging students with traditionally ‘difficult’ subjects such as science. In addition, there is very little research material available to assist teachers in the development of teaching and learning strategies for science education that deal with the unique situation of the flexible learning context. The aim of this research is to build a framework for guiding scientific teaching practice in the context of working with students with complex needs and diverse backgrounds. The ‘Re-Engaging Disadvantaged Youth Through Science’ Project originated as a partnership between Edmund Rice Education Australia, James Cook University (Townsville) and the Australian Research Council, who provided funding for the three-year project.

Keywords: Science Education, Alternative Education, Youth Disengagement

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.237-248. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 625.787KB).

Kimberley Luanne Wilson

PhD Candidate, Teacher, School of Education, School of Indigenous Australian Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

I hold a Bachelor in Education (Primary) as well as postgraduate qualifications in Community Development. I am in my final year of completing my PhD (Education) at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia. Through employment with charitable and non-profit organisations, I have spent considerable time working with disadvantaged families and young people. Improving the educational outcomes of young people with complex needs is both a personal motivation and the primary focus of my research project. My current work in an alternative education setting has allowed me to experience a different philosophy of teaching and learning that appears to provide holistic benefits for those young people who have been traditionally marginalised by mainstream education practices. My interest in science education relates specifically to the usefulness for young people of developing scientific habits of mind that enable wise decision-making and civic competence.

Dr. David Lake

Senior Lecturer, School of Education, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Dr. David Lake is Senior Lecturer in Science Education located within the School of Education at James Cook University, Townsville. He holds tertiary qualifications in science, business, education and outdoor education and his publications have focused particularly on his interest in science education in remote and rural communities. Other research interests include Science Curriculum and Science Practice, Cross-Cultural Science Education and the use of ICT in Science Education. Dr David Lake is currently principal investigator of the Australian Research Council funded project ‘Re-engaging Disadvantaged Youth Through Science’.

Prof. Sue McGinty

Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Arts, Education and Social Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Professor Sue McGinty is the Associate Dean of Research for the Faculty of Arts, Education, and Social Sciences (incorporating the School of Indigenous Australian Studies) at James Cook University. Previously she held the position of Director of Research in the School of Indigenous Australian Studies, and prior to this she was employed as Deputy Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at JCU.


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