Digital Experiences in Mathematics Education

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 101–123 | Cite as

Using Computer Simulations and Culturally Responsive Instruction to Broaden Urban Students’ Participation in STEM

  • Jacqueline LeonardEmail author
  • Joy Barnes-Johnson
  • Brian R. Evans


This article describes the findings of a pilot study that used computer simulations to broaden urban children’s opportunities to learn and participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Culturally responsive instructional practices were used to engage urban children in mathematical reasoning and science process skills to create computer simulations. In this study, African-American and Latinx students’ self-efficacy in technology and twenty-first-century skills, as well as attitudes toward STEM and STEM careers, were examined using the context of critical race theory. Due to the small sample size, a non-parametric test was performed. The results revealed significant differences from pre-test to post-test on the constructs of twenty-first-century skills, science attitude and engineering careers. The effect sizes were moderate. Qualitative data revealed the instructor engaged in four out of six elements associated with culturally responsive instruction. Future studies should examine how instructors’ use of sociopolitical consciousness and funds of knowledge influences underrepresented students’ interest in and motivation to learn about STEM.


Computer simulations Constructionism Culturally responsive instruction Technology Urban students 



We acknowledge Shorter AME Community Church, Gracia Y Vida Church, and Campbell Chapel AME Church for recruiting students to participate in this study. We also acknowledge the University of Wyoming for funding the program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of officials at the University of Wyoming.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacqueline Leonard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joy Barnes-Johnson
    • 2
  • Brian R. Evans
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Teacher EducationUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  2. 2.Princeton High SchoolPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.School of EducationPace UniversityNew YorkUSA

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