Cultural Reactions: Reality Pedagogy in Science Education


  • Grant Heil University of Toledo


Reality Pedagogy


The United States and its school systems are becoming increasingly diverse.  Science educators are tasked with stimulating the minds of multiple ethnic and cultural groups during their pedagogical career.  Some science educators may have the mission of cultivating students in a location where none of the students share the educator’s cultural background.  Culturally responsive pedagogy assists educators in bridging the cultural gaps between students and presents science content in a method that is relatable.  Reality Pedagogy is a subset of culturally responsive education that can be implemented by educators in diverse settings.  Reality Pedagogy consists of five foundational blocks: Cogenerative Dialogues, Coteaching, Cosmopolitanism, Context, and Content.  Case studies have validated the effectiveness of Reality Pedagogy in diverse pedagogical science environments.              

Author Biography

Grant Heil, University of Toledo

Grant Heil will be receiving his Master of Secondary Education in AYA Science. He possesses a Bachelor of Science in Chemical and Environmental Engineering with a Minor in Chemistry from the University of Toledo. After graduation, Grant will be teaching Physical Science and Chemistry at Scott High School in TPS.


Aiyedun, Folakemi. (2019). “A Case Study of a Charter School Seeking to Transform Toward Greater Cultural Competence for Working With Diverse Urban Students: Using Christopher Emdin’s Reality Pedagogy Approach as a Stimulus and Guide,”

Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. G. (2004). Handbook of research on multicultural education. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.

Borges, S. I. (2016). A longitudinal study of implementing reality pedagogy in an urban science classroom: effects, challenges, and recommendations for science teaching and learning (Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University).

Codrington, J. (2014). Sharpening the lens of culturally responsive science teaching: a call for liberatory education for oppressed student groups. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 9(4), 1015–1024. doi: 10.1007/s11422-013-9543-2

Driscoll, E. A., & Lownds, N. K. (2007). The garden wonder wall: Fostering wonder and curiosity on multi-day garden field trips. Applied Environmental Education and Communication, 6(1), 105-112.

Elmesky, R., & Tobin, K. (2005). Expanding our understandings of urban science education by expanding the roles of students as researchers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(7), 807-828.

Emdin, C. (2016). Moving Beyond the Boat without a Paddle: Reality Pedagogy, Black Youth, and Urban Science Education. The Journal of Negro Education, 80(3), 284–295. Retrieved from

Emdin, C. (2016). For White folks who teach in the hood... and the rest of y'all too: Reality pedagogy and urban education. Beacon Press.

Goff, P., Boesdorfer, S. B., & Hunter, W. (2012). Using a multicultural approach to teach chemistry and the nature of science to undergraduate non-majors. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 7(3), 631–651. doi: 10.1007/s11422-012-9382-6

Hayden, H. E., Singh, A., & Baird, M. E. (2019). Gaining Access to the Language of Science: A Research Partnership for Disciplined, Discursive Ways to Select and Assess Vocabulary Knowledge. Reading Horizons, 58(2), 1–23.

Krugly-Smolska, E. (2013). Twenty-five years of multicultural science education: Looking backward, looking forward. Encounters/Encuentros/Rencontres on Education. doi: 10.15572/enco2013.02

Ladson?Billings, G. (1995). But thats just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. Theory Into Practice, 34(3), 159–165. doi: 10.1080/00405849509543675

Le, P. T., & Matias, C. E. (2018). Towards a truer multicultural science education: how whiteness impacts science education. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 14(1), 15–31. doi: 10.1007/s11422-017-9854-9

Lee, Y. C. (2017). When technology, science and culture meet: insights from ancient Chinese technology. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 13(2), 485–515. doi: 10.1007/s11422-017-9805-5

NCES. (2020). Characteristics of Public School Teachers.

NCES. (2020). Racial/Ethnic Enrollment in Public Schools.

Ramirez, I. A. L. (2018). The Effects of Reality Pedagogy on the Academic Performance and Motivation to Learn of Grade 7 Physics Students. International Journal on Language, Research and Education Studies, 2(2), 176-194.



How to Cite

Heil, G. (2020). Cultural Reactions: Reality Pedagogy in Science Education. Learning to Teach, 9(1). Retrieved from



Section on Science