Designing for Rightful Presence in STEM: The Role of Making Present Practices

Opportunities to learn in consequential ways are shaped by the historicized injustices students encounter in relation to participation in STEM and schooling. In this article, it is argued that the construct of rightful presence, and the coconstructed “making present” practices that give rise to moments of rightful presence, is 1 way to consider how to make sense of the historicized and relational nature of consequential learning. Drawing on theories of consequential learning and critical justice, we analyze ethnographic data from 3 urban middle school classrooms in 2 states during a STEM unit focused on engineering for sustainable communities. Findings describe 2 making present practices students enacted as they engaged in engineering design: modeling ethnographic data and reperforming injustices toward solidarity building. We discuss how these practices supported moments of rightful presence in the STEM classrooms by inscribing youths’ marginalizing school experiences as a part of classroom science discourse and co-opting school science tasks as tools for exposing, critiquing, and addressing these unjust experiences. That which was silent and previously concealed from school authority figures gained a rightful place through the voices and scientific actions of the youth and their allies.

Barton, A. C., & Tan, E. (2019). Designing for Rightful Presence in STEM: The Role of Making Present Practices. Journal of the Learning Sciences. doi:10.1080/10508406.2019.1591411