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Abstract Title: Identity Development in Physics
Abstract: Research into the identity development of physicists has seen significant growth in the recent past. This growth is largely associated with the assertion that the development of a professional identity is a fundamental part of student development and the development of an appropriate subject specific identity had been asserted to be a strong influence on the retention of students in a discipline (Pierrakos et al. 2009). Encouraging the development of a students physics identity may help tackle the underdeveloped growth rate (National Science Board, 2008) of physics degrees awarded. This symposium presents research into physics identity development from several different contexts with a focus on the current popular research frameworks within physics identity research. Each presenter will discuss the aspects of identity they feel are important to study, why those aspects in particular are the ones they are interested in and how these choices inform the results of their studies.
Abstract Type: Poster Symposium

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Paul Irving
Kansas State University
116 Cardwell Hall, KSU
Manhattan, KS 66506-2600
Phone: 7852361779

Symposium Specific Information

Discussant: Eleanor Sayre
Moderator: Eleanor Sayre
Presentation 1 Title: Learning Assistants' Development of Physics (Teacher) Identity
Presentation 1 Authors: Eleanor Close
Presentation 1 Abstract: The physics department at Texas State University-San Marcos is developing a Learning Assistant (LA) program with reform-based instructional changes in our introductory course sequences. We are interested in how participation in the LA program influences LAs' identity both as physics students and as physics teachers; in particular, how being part of the LA community changes participants' self-concepts and their day-to-day practice. We analyze both written artifacts and video data; our analysis of self-concepts is informed by the identity framework developed by Hazari et al. [1] and our analysis of practice is informed by Lave and Wenger's theory of Communities of Practice [2, 3]. Preliminary experience suggests that engagement in the collaborative physics education community elements of the LA program blurs the distinction between learner and teacher practice and increases LAs' engagement in negotiation of meaning in both contexts.

Work partially supported by NSF grant DUE-1240036
[1] Hazari et al., JRST 47(8), 2010.
[2] Lave, J., & Wenger, E., 1991.
[3] Wenger, E., 1998.
Presentation 2 Title: The Development and Measurement of Identity across the Physical Sciences
Presentation 2 Authors: Geoff Potvin
Zahra Hazari
Presentation 2 Abstract: Drawing from earlier work of Gee (1999), Carlone (2004), and Shanahan (2009), we developed a framework for "good physics student role identity" or, more simply, "physics identity" which is a reliable proxy for students' affinity towards physics and is predictive of students' career choices. This framework was postulated to be comprised of performance beliefs, competence beliefs, recognition beliefs, and interest (Hazari et al, 2010).  Subsequent investigations showed that performance and competence beliefs are not distinct (Potvin et al, 2011; 2012) and the combined performance/competence construct is somewhat akin to Bandura's self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986).  Recent work has extended this framework to mathematics (Cribbs et al, 2012) and engineering (Godwin et al, 2013).  We conclude with a discussion of the future of the framework for understanding "best practices" in STEM classrooms.
Presentation 3 Title: Multiple pathways to the development of a physics identity
Presentation 3 Authors: Paul Irving
Eleanor Sayre
Presentation 3 Abstract: In an ongoing investigation into identity development in upper-level physics students we present three case studies illustrating the relationship between identity development and a students pathway through physics. Sally is a physics minor who gradually transforms into a physicist through her undergraduate research experiences and a developing affinity for physics as a discipline. Bob is a mechanical engineering and physics double major who attests a great affinity for physics but ends up dropping it as a major due to practical career concerns. Larry is a physics major who intends to be a teacher and repeatedly identifies himself a physicist. In this talk we talk about this group of students development in light of a framework which conceptualizes identity as having three integral aspects -- personal, practice, and participation -- by examining both interview and observational data. We conclude that discussions about physics identity development should not be reserved for physics majors.
Presentation 4 Title: Students navigation between multiple physics identities
Presentation 4 Authors: Sissi Li
Presentation 4 Abstract: Becoming a physicist involves learning to be part of multiple physics communities. In this enculturation process, students socially interact with these communities to develop physicist identities and understanding of what it means and takes to be a physicist. At the same time, students also mediate potential mismatches that can cause conflict between their physics communities and personal communities. In each of these communities, students develop identities that inform and are influenced by their participation and membership. However, because the students are physicist in multiple communities, we use the notion of a nexus of multi-membership to consider their collection of identities and how students navigate between them. In this study, we present case studies of five female students from underrepresented groups in physics in ethnicity or as first-generation college students. By examining the collection of identities, the impact of family and cultural conflicts on their identity development is highlighted.