Uniformity in physics courses and student diversity: A study of learning to participate in physics
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
This licentiate thesis describes an investigation of participation and achievement in undergraduate physics courses with a discourse analytical lens. Issues of unequal participation have been a growing concern for the physics education research community. At the same time, these issues have not been explored to any large extent using already developed theoretical tools from fields of social science and humanities. This thesis builds on earlier studies in physics education research but crosses disciplinary boundaries to bring in perspectives from gender studies. The two papers use a discourse theoretical framework to explore what it might mean to participate in physics, whether that is one’s primary subject or not, in courses in electromagnetism and quantum physics. A general conclusion that can be drawn from these empirical studies is that physics courses may often be taught from a narrow physics perspective, and that this may limit the possibilities for identification for many students. For instance, engineering students whose main area was not physics failed to see much significance in studying electromagnetism and then just “studied to pass”. Additionally, students on physics programmes may find that the limited positions in quantum physics which can be characterized as mainly focused on “calculating”, are hard to reconcile with their interest in physics. Using a discourse perspective, I broaden this critique to a discussion of the culture of physics: What does it mean to become a physicist and what physics culture follows from different “productions” of physicists? These results inform continued research in physics education by raising issues of identity and providing critical frameworks for exploring them. They also point to the importance of including broad views of physics in courses. Critically examining participation in physics, this thesis aims at widening the discussion and provide new ways to talk about these issues in physics education research.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala, 2015. , 59 p.
undergraduate physics education, science participation, discourse, identity, subject position, quantum physics, electromagnetism
Physical Sciences Educational Sciences Gender Studies
Research subject Physics with specialization in Physics Education
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-267308OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-267308DiVA: diva2:872763
2015-12-18, Polhemsalen, Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Berge, Maria, FD
Andersson, StaffanSalminen-Karlsson, MinnaElmgren, MajaLinder, Cedric
List of papers