Contributions to a herpetological community of practice: funds of knowledge of Lumbee youth

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mary Callis Ash (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Catherine Matthews

Abstract: American Indian K-12 students comprise less than 1% of the student population in the US. In southeastern North Carolina, the largest North Carolina tribe of American Indians, Lumbees, live and attend schools where they often perform poorly on standardized tests. The Lumbee Indians generally live in areas that are rural and economically disadvantaged and they speak a dialect of English, which is seldom heard except near their homeland. Away from their homeland, Lumbee speech is often construed as non-Standard English. The Lumbees have close knit family relationships and where you come from and where you live are important facts to assess. Because Lumbees live in rural areas, they are often involved in outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and gardening. They have a strong sense of place, particularly regarding the Lumber River, which runs through their homeland. Historically, schools, community organizations and universities have not provided sufficient informal science education opportunities for Lumbee youth. The purpose of this study was to document the experiences of nine Lumbee youths at a residential, week-long herpetological education experience for Lumbee students and others. The Funds of Knowledge (FoK) that these students brought to this experience and how these FoK were integrated into the herpetology program’s Community of Practice (CoP) were examined. A mixed methods, ethnographically inspired, single case study was conducted and both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. Data collected included individual interviews, pre/post-tests, pre/post-surveys, observations and field notes. Analyses of qualitative and quantitative data demonstrated specific FoK of these Lumbee youths and the strategies they employed to be dynamic, contributing members of the informal science education herpetological CoP. As a result of the herpetology experience, significant positive changes in the attitudes of these Lumbee youths toward science and their understanding of related science concepts were apparent. The findings from this study suggest that these Lumbee youths have FoK from their rural ways of knowing and being that allow them to perform especially well in outdoor, environmental settings. Further, these youths are often reflective learners who do not put themselves forward in formal, classroom situations. Finally, their FoK serve them well as members of learning groups. For all of these reasons, outdoor informal environmental/science educational opportunities may provide favorable venues for Lumbee youth to demonstrate their abilities and interests in science.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Community of Practice, Environmental Education, Funds of Knowledge, Informal Education, Lumbee
Lumbee Indians $x Education
Indians of North America $x Education
Herpetology $x Study and teaching
Science $x Study and teaching
Environmental education $x Study and teaching
Non-formal education
Place-based education
Communities of practice

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