Latinas/os form the largest minority group in the U.S. and they are growing more rapidly than any other ethnic group in this country. However, the number of Latinas/os in chemistry is not proportional to their population; they are noticeably absent from the physical science fields. Little research has explored the circumstances that Latino students encounter in high school chemistry. In this exploratory study, four Mexican American students and one Native American student were interviewed and observed in a physical science class at an alternative school that enrolled predominantly Latino students. Five underlying themes were found: negative perceptions of science, benefits and disadvantages of alternative school science, traditional teaching methods versus student-centered teaching, outreach possibilities, and changes in stereotypes of scientists. A further investigation and more in-depth contextual knowledge is needed in or der to determine more precisely what caused the students to have their opinions on physical science.


Secondary Students, Mexican American, Chemistry Attitudes, and Alternative Schools


I would like to thank Dr. Maria Lahman, Dr. Loretta Jones, Nicole Kunze, Nate Barrows, Rod Simpson, and John Dunkle for their assistance and suggestions. I would also like to thank Derek Lefebra, my research assistant. This research was supported by the Center of Teaching and Learning in the West (CLTW), a National Science Foundation project, ESIE Award #0119786.

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