Reimagining the synthesis of Latino youth in the science lab : using Latino cultural identity to teach cellular permeability

Nathalie Iturburua, California State University, Monterey Bay

Capstone Project (B.A.) Liberal Studies Department


Academic excellence is often thought of as achieved through “motivation”. I use this term lightly because of its many definitions and lack of true value to its meaning in correlation with my project. Institutions often analyze student academics through the scope of the student. That is, completing homework assignments, preparing for tests and quizzes, spending adequate time outside of the classroom practicing academic integrity, staying out of the principal’s office, and so forth. Seldom institutions have shifted their focus to critique their own faculty and curriculum to analyze student academic interest. It is through the work of the faculty member that student academic interest increase and students will become more engaged and connected to his or her learning. When focusing on dropout rates, college applicants, and number of suspensions and expulsions, I want to bring awareness to understanding the relationship between teaching a curriculum and creating interested, curious, thought-provoking students rather than analyzing student behavior. While I am interested in wrestling with raising the interest and relevancy of academics to all students, I have specifically chosen to research minority engagement in science curriculum with focus on teaching strategies for my senior capstone. Initially I wanted to wrestle with raising academic interest among all students because this has proven to increase student performance in a multitude of areas (dropout rates, test scores, college graduates), but the research behind the lack of minorities in the field of science seemed much more achievable and realistic given three months to explore the entire subject matter. Throughout the course of my teaching career I will continue to analyze overall academic engagement for minorities and non-minorities alike throughout all of academia and analyze various outcomes of academic engagement (or lack thereof); however, I have narrowed my scope of work only for my capstone project so that I can adhere all attention on minority engagement through middle school science curriculum.