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.
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