Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Teaching-Learning Processes

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

William C. Kyle, Jr.


Joseph Polman

Stephen Sherblom

John G. Blake


This investigation focuses on the nexus of science and culture in the lives of marginalized youth in the United States and South Africa. The epistemologies and contextual realities of cross-cultural learner cohorts and their understandings of scientific phenomena are examined. The researcher was a participant observer within the context of the Science, Technology & Culture: Empowering Learners (STC) program, an after-school and school-based collaboration focused upon integrating science, technology and culture. Electronic communication provided a vehicle for dialogue between youth in St. Louis, Missouri, USA and a South African Township. Study findings include documentation of the marginalizing effects of poverty for the United States and South African study participants. Study participants drew upon multiple contexts to form identity. United States and South African learners revealed many ways of knowing as explanatory tools for natural phenomena. Learners maintained multiple epistemologies as explanatory tools after engaging in scientific pedagogical activities. However, belief in multiple epistemologies did not preclude learner trust in scientifically acceptable explanations for natural events. Change was a constant in the experience of study participants. Educators and learners negotiated their changing world through the lenses of their cultural/indigenous understandings. Implications for policy and practice are provided.

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