Book for science educators helps create student-centered spaces 

April 11, 2023

A new book by Associate Professor David Stroupe will help science teachers and administrators initiate and maintain classrooms in which students feel valued and heard.  

“Growing and Sustaining Student-Centered Science Classrooms” is the latest publication from Stroupe through Harvard Education Press. He previously co-edited “Preparing Science Teachers through Practice-Based Teacher Education” in 2020.  

David Stroupe photo

The new book, available now, helps teachers and administrators recognize epistemic injustices in schools and provides usable practices and tools teachers can enact in their classrooms immediately. It captures these ideas through stories and examples of real teachers in real classrooms, some of whom have used the practices for years.  

Two of the teachers—Anna and Lindsay—worked with Stroupe while he was completing his doctoral studies at the University of Washington. He spent a year in each of their classrooms and observed how they used inclusive, thoughtful and student-centric teaching approaches in their classrooms. In the years since, the teachers have continued to use the practices to shape their everyday work.  

“They learned, with their students, about how to adapt instruction to co-develop science communities together,” Stroupe said. “This book helps share their stories, including successes and challenges.”  

The book serves as a resource to help educators empower students to feel engaged and valued in the classroom, and has a focus on injustices (systemic and individual) that can hamper or stifle student voices.  

For example, consider a moment when a teacher asks a student what they are thinking about a scientific phenomenon—say, why the tide ebbs and flows.  

After a student’s response, a teacher might say something like “I like what you are thinking, can you tell me more?” Conversely, a teacher might say “That’s interesting, but that’s wrong.”  

These answers to a response from a student can elicit quite different responses. In the first example, a student might feel encouraged or happy to have their thoughts welcomed. As teachers use similar phrasing over time, students will feel like they can—and should—participate. Whereas in the second example, it could make a student feel shut down or nervous to speak up again for fear of being wrong.  

These “talk moves,” Stroup says, “open up or constrain opportunities for students, which can make the classroom feel like a welcoming or stifling space.” 

Talk moves are one example Stroupe explores in his book, which can support science educators in K-12 science classrooms. The impact of the book could be far-reaching: Stroupe’s hope is to have groups of teachers (or entire schools or districts) use the book to help create a better learning environment for students.  

Growing and Sustaining Student-Centered Classrooms” is available now through Harvard Education Press. Use code GSSC23 for 20% off.