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Two Interventions Targeting Physics Major’s Sense of Belonging and Intimidation to Increase Retention at OSU
Mike Lopez, Graduate Student, The Ohio State University

Cognitive and Education Psychologists have well demonstrated that social attitudinal factors play a significant role in student performance and retention in academic settings. Furthermore, they have found that at least some of these factors are malleable and causal by implementing replicable interventions to positively shift these factors and, in turn, performance. I will discuss two research validated intervention projects underway at OSU. First, I will present a preliminary snapshot of our in-progress 4-year longitudinal study investigating the social cognitive factors that predict undergraduate physics course grades and retention, with the goal of designing a targeted intervention to positively change those factors. As an example, we find that intimidation is a dominant social attitudinal predictor for grade received. Every unit higher in the 1-7 intimidation scale corresponds to nearly a third of a letter grade drop. We find that belonging, an extensively researched attitudinal factor linked to performance and retention, only indirectly predicts course grade and is mediated by intimidation. We also find that underrepresented minorities and first generation college students on average report higher levels of intimidation. Lastly, I will present the Polaris mentorship program, a grad and undergraduate student led intervention to increase retention and satisfaction of underrepresented groups in physics and astronomy at OSU.

Vashti Publishes Article on Modeling Instruction for University Physics
May 11, 2025
Vashti Publishes Article on Modeling Instruction for University Physics

PERL co-director Vashti Sawtelle and colleagues have published an article on Modeling Instruction for University Physics in the European Journal of Physics

Dr. Daryl McPadden Defends Her PhD!
March 21, 2018
Dr. Daryl McPadden Defends Her PhD!

Daryl McPadden successfully defended her PhD. Congratulations Daryl!

PERL Members Publish 10 PERC Papers
March 13, 2018
PERL Members Publish 10 PERC Papers

We're proud to annouce that the PERL Team has contributed to 10 PERC Papers in 2017.

Prof. Katie Hinko Wins $10,000 S3 Grant
February 8, 2018
Prof. Katie Hinko Wins $10,000 S3 Grant

Prof. Katie Hinko is leading a team that was awarded a $10,000 Science and Society @ State grant. Working with Prof. Megan Halpern, their project titled: Hidden Value: Investigating the Physics Demonstration as Aesthetic Experience looks to explore physics demonstrations as meaningful experiences.

Angie publishes in Journal of Science Teacher Education
February 2, 2018
Angie publishes in Journal of Science Teacher Education

Angie Little and colleagues published a paper in the Journal of Science Teacher Education titled: Building Reflective Practices in a Pre-service Math and Science Teacher Education Course That Focuses on Qualitative Video Analysis

Vashti & Danny Named 2018 Teacher-Scholars
January 31, 2018
Vashti & Danny Named 2018 Teacher-Scholars

Vashti Sawtelle and Danny Caballero were both named 2018 Teacher-Scholars for their fantastic teaching and research: 

http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2018/2018-teacher-scholar-awards/

Vashti Sawtelle featured in Engaged Scholar Newsletter
January 24, 2018
Vashti Sawtelle featured in Engaged Scholar Newsletter

Prof. Vashti Sawtelle is featured in the January issue of the Engaged Scholar Newsletter. The article titled: Can Physics Educators Create a More Encouraging Environment for Black, Latino, and Native American Science Students? discusses how physics educators can help build more inclusive and supportive classrooms.

Nick Young publishes paper on item tree analysis
January 23, 2018
Nick Young publishes paper on item tree analysis

Graduate student Nick Young published a paper investigating students' accuracy in determining the period, frequency, and angular frequency from mathematical and graphical representations.

Alanna Pawlak publishes paper on modes of collaboration
January 15, 2018
Alanna Pawlak publishes paper on modes of collaboration

Graduate student Alanna Pawlak published a paper examining how students interact in groups in the physics classroom which introduced the modes of collaboration framework.

Vashti Sawtelle & BLiSS Physics Course Featured in MSU Today
December 5, 2017
Vashti Sawtelle & BLiSS Physics Course Featured in MSU Today

PERL co-director Vashti Sawtelle and her studio course, Briggs Life Science Studio (BLiSS) Physics, is featured in MSU Today.