Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Rubin Observatory Education and Public Outreach is committed to creating environments and products that welcome and encourage participation in science for all students. To improve opportunities for more equitable participation, we have used guiding principles for investigation design to consider the needs of a diverse population of learners. These principles were developed based on techniques suggested by the resources listed at the end of this document. Two groups of strategies are identified below. Many of the strategies that are specific to one of these groups may also support students from other backgrounds.
Strategies for supporting cultural, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, and geographic diversity
- Each investigation avoids the use of language or examples that are relatable only to a certain culture, socioeconomic class, or region. If needed, additional information is provided to make an example clear to all.
- Links to biographies, stories, photos, and news releases from diverse Rubin Observatory staff will be included when they are available.
- Questions in each investigation invite students to apply their personal experiences, perspectives, and cultural ways of knowing in their responses.
- Students are given opportunities to make their own value judgements and connections.
- When appropriate and relevant to the science topics, effort is made to include significant scientific and engineering contributions of women, individuals living with disabilities, and of people from diverse cultures and ethnicities.
- We identify cultural biases in investigations or teacher guides when appropriate.
- Where possible, we incorporate both science content and the human story of understanding the Universe.
Strategies for supporting students with disabilities, gifted and talented students, and students with limited English proficiency
Each investigation has incorporated ideas from Universal Design for Learning (UDL; CAST, 1998) and Integrating Differentiated Instruction + Understanding by Design (Tomlin and McTighe, 2006). Here are some general design strategies for all investigations:
- The online nature of the investigations allows for self-pacing
- The interactive nature of the investigations provides immediate feedback and builds engagement.
- Recognizing that students’ preparation in mathematics affects their achievement in science, we provide computational tools in our investigations. Embedded tools do routine calculations and plotting, freeing the student to devote more time to exploring and interpreting mathematical and scientific concepts.
- Recognizing that students’ preparation in literacy affects their achievement in science, we present multiple modes of representations: images, text, animations, plots, charts, mathematics, and simulations help students develop conceptual models.
- Science vocabulary is introduced and supported by links to definitions or more information about a particular term or concept. Research has shown that the use of appropriate science vocabulary helps students build context in language, interpret nuances, and conceptualize complex processes or ideas.
- Multiple modes of expression and actions are required: writing, speaking, modifying plots, and using interactive tools and simulations.
- Text and diagrams adhere to the “Less is More” rule: Don't provide information that is not needed.
- Ongoing feedback is provided through formative assessments and embedded messages in the investigations.
- Scaffolded question design empowers students to build coherent and robust mental models.
- Ideas for further study in the teacher guide provide a higher level of challenge for gifted or advanced students.
- Each investigation features opportunities for discourse and peer interaction.
- Integration of the big ideas of science, science and engineering practices, and cross-curricular connections engage students and provide context for new learning.
- A progress bar displays student progress.
- Prompts or tasks are built into each investigation to give students the opportunity to reflect on and assess their learning.
- Summative assessment tasks provide opportunities for students to apply creative or unique approaches to complete a summative task.
- All materials will be available in English and Spanish.
We recognize that it’s important to create an inclusive learning culture where all individuals engage in (and succeed at) the complex analysis and critical thinking skills involved in science literacy. In order to achieve this, we support students in these ways:
- Investigation narratives and prompts help students make connections between the practices of science and parallel practices in daily life.
- Interactive tools encourage student exploration and engagement.
- Unique datasets for each student or group give students some ownership over their learning.
- Open-ended prompts and opportunities for discourse provide ways for students to contribute their ideas and perspectives.
- When possible, students can choose the way they explore data and express their learning.
- We invite students to do science, instead of learning about how scientists do science. Our goal is to give students a chance to see themselves as scientists and have the confidence that they can succeed in science.
Finally, we have conducted extensive user testing, striving to gain input from as many diverse groups as possible. We welcome continuing feedback from users as we work to address the inequities that currently exist.
- The ACESSE Project (Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education)
- All Standards, All Students: Making the Next Generation Science Standards Accessible to All Students
- Okhee Lee, 2015, NGSS for Diversity and Equity
- O'Donnell, C., Prather, E., & Behroozi, P. (2020) Making Science Personal: Inclusivity-Driven Design for General-Education Courses. Accepted for publication in The Journal of College Science Teaching.
- STEM Teaching Tools Practice Briefs on Equity