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PERC 2019 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Student activist strategies for creating a welcoming physics culture
Abstract: Connections between physics students' strategies of resistance and experiences outside the classroom are not well-documented. We carried out a 16-month critical ethnographic study centered around a cohort of transfer student physics majors by observing formal and informal learning spaces, interviewing, and participant-researchers autoethnographic memoing. Data were analyzed for emerging themes using a constant comparative method through a critical lens to understand power dynamics. During the study, participants created an equity and inclusion group, whose discussions and actions embodied students' resistance against marginalization. For example, a prevalent perception that instructors expected majors to sacrifice other parts of their lives in order to succeed in physics inspired participants to create an open mic night to celebrate talent in music and comedy. By documenting students' efforts to upend dominant ideas about the physics community and subsequent pushback they faced, we present key factors that shaped student activist experiences in a traditional physics department.
Abstract Type: Juried Talk
Parallel Session: Juried Talks I
Session Time: Parallel Sessions Cluster I
Room: Cascade A

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Mary Chessey
University of Maryland
and Co-Presenter(s)
KC Brunk et al.