Using physics identity to understand students’ experiences in high school and introductory university physics courses
Robynne Lock, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University - Commerce
Physics identity provides a useful framework for understanding students’ experiences in physics classes and for understanding their career goals. Physics identity consists of three dimensions: recognition, interest, and performance/competence, and can be described as the extent to which a person sees themselves as a “physics person”. In this presentation, I will discuss two contexts in which the physics identity framework provides insight. The first context is an introductory university physics course sequence. We investigated the impact of the transition from a traditional lecture/lab to a studio setting on both conceptual understanding and physics identity in the introductory calculus-based physics sequence at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Furthermore, because studio physics relies on students working in groups, creating effective groups in studio classes is critical to maximizing success. We analyzed videos of groups in introductory physics at A&M-Commerce in order to identify trends of effective group work in studio physics. Another context in which physics identity is useful is in examining the factors that affect students’ career decisions. This is of key importance when developing methods to recruit women into physics. STEP UP 4 Women is an ambitious project with the goal of increasing the representation of women in physics by mobilizing and supporting high school physics teachers nationwide to recruit young women to become physics majors through strategies that support the physics identity development of young women. The results of the pilot study include analysis of effects on future physics intentions in addition to physics identity as well as an investigation of students’ career goals.
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