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Grade achievement as a function of social and academic relations in the University Physics Context
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A complexity perspective is used to differentiate between the social network that student develop, which is made up of the social ties constituted between students within a given course, and the academic network, which in turn is made up of academic ties constituted between students within a given course. This differentiation is introduced because, up until now, research in the field has only investigated connections between undifferentiated network ties and students’ academic success. As a start to dealing with this issue, the study explores what network structures emerge from students' interactions with each other within their courses, in particular the social and academic networks that they create.  Network analysis is used to examine students’ structural position in these networks in relation to student’s grade achievement on two courses in physics and related engineering degree programmes in Sweden.  The remaining data consists of a network survey conducted at a highly regarded traditional Swedish university.  The analysis indicates that while the participating physics and engineering student (n1= 64, n2= 68) socialized and studied together to a large degree, their positions in their social and academic networks were related to grade achievement in different ways.

Keyword [en]
Grade achievement, social networks, academic networks, complexity science, physics education research
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-259412OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-259412DiVA: diva2:844014
Available from: 2015-08-03 Created: 2015-08-03 Last updated: 2017-01-25Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Complexity Theory and Physics Education Research: The Case of Student Retention in Physics and Related Degree Programmes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Complexity Theory and Physics Education Research: The Case of Student Retention in Physics and Related Degree Programmes
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores the use of complexity theory in Physics Education Research as a way to examine the issue of student retention (a university’s ability to retain its students). University physics education is viewed through the concepts of nestedness and networked interactions. The work presented in this thesis covers two main aspects from a complexity theory perspective: (1) institutional action to enhance student retention; and, (2) the role of students’ in-course interaction networks. These aspects are used to reframe student retention from a complexity theory perspective, as well as to explore what implications this new perspective affords. The first aspect is addressed by conceptualizing student retention as an emergent phenomenon caused by both agent and component interaction within a complex system. A methodology is developed to illustrate a networked visualization of such a system using contemporary estimation methods. Identified limitations are discussed. To exemplify the use of simulations of complex systems, the networked system created is used to build a simulation of an “ideal” university system as well as a Virtual world for hypothesis-testing. The second aspect is divided into two sections: Firstly, an analysis of processes relating to how students’ in-course networks are created is undertaken. These networks are divided into two relevant components for student retention – the social and the academic. Analysis of these two components of the networks shows that the formation of the networks is not a result of random processes and is thus framed as a function of the core constructs of student retention research – the social and academic systems. Secondly, a case is made that students’ structural positions in the social and academic networks can be related to their grade achievement in the course.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 185 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1273
Keyword
Physics Education Research, Complexity Theory, Student Retention
National Category
Didactics Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-259413 (URN)978-91-554-9303-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-10-02, Häggsalen (Å10132), Ångströmlaboratoriet, Uppsala, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-09-11 Created: 2015-08-03 Last updated: 2015-10-01

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Forsman, JonasLInder, Cedric

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