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Abstract Title: “I’m not that important”: Barriers and bolsters to student agency during conversations about the intersections of physics and ethics
Abstract: Physics has greatly impacted society, both in solving problems and perpetuating harm. Yet we rarely train physics students to grapple with their responsibilities to society by facilitating conversations about ethical issues. We developed and collected classroom video of a unit on the development of the atomic bomb. Here, we analyze students' small group interactions to reveal factors that enable and limit their engagement. Enabling factors include: (a) curricular materials that elicit students' opinions, (b) opportunities for students to push each other to engage with the content, and (c) instructor facilitation that further pushes and validates student reasoning. Limiting factors include: (a) students' discomfort around inexperience with ethical reasoning in physics, (b) students' anticipation of their lack of agency in the physics community, and (c) students' projections of their lack of agency in a historical context due to their race and gender. We consider the implications of these factors for instruction.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: 1.E4
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Brianne Gutmann
Texas State University
San Marcos, TX 78666
and Co-Presenter(s)
Egla Ochoa-Madrid, Texas State University
Alice Olmstead, Texas State University