“Chemistry for all, instead of chemistry just for the elite”: Lessons learned from detracked chemistry classrooms



Within the already limited literature on instructional practices in detracked classrooms, there are even fewer research-based studies of detracked science classrooms. This article attempts to address this gap in the research literature, delving into the unique challenges and instructional responses to teaching detracked science. The authors report on a case study of two chemistry teachers' heterogeneous classrooms at a racially diverse, public high school in California, where all students have been required to take chemistry since the school's founding in 1994. The authors highlight the following four beliefs and instructional practices that were instrumental in teachers' successful efforts to teach detracked chemistry classes: (1) teachers' true belief in a developmental conception of ability and intelligence; (2) a focus on an inquiry-based pedagogical approach to chemistry foregrounding real-world contexts; (3) a focus on teaching students study skills; and (4) a strong sense of community in the classroom, where students are held responsible for their own and each other's learning. To illustrate each of these findings, the authors select vivid examples from fieldnotes of classroom observations as well as interviews of teachers and students that make clear how teachers enacted and students experienced these elements in chemistry classrooms. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed91:683–709, 2007