Physics Learning Identity: Toward Development of A Model

Sissi L. Li 1 , Dedra Demaree 2

1 Catalyst Center, California State University Fullerton, ,, Fullerton, CA 92831, United States
2 Physics Department, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, United States
*Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received: 2012-8-13 / Accepted: 2012-10-27 / Published: 2012-12-30

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Abstract Lecture classes enrolling hundreds of students are becoming the norm in college introductory science courses. Studies indicate that learning in large population enrollment traditional lecture courses correlates with lower course performance, reduced retention in the course (Gardiner, 1994; Borden and Burton, 1999) and as science majors (Kopeika, 1992; Hewitt & Seymour, 1999), reduced interest and motivation (Lord, 1999), and weaker grasp of meta learning goals such as critical thinking skills (Kennedy and Siegfried, 1997). However, the negative effects of large enrollment courses appear to be reduced by implementing some form of active engagement curriculum in place of the passive traditional lecture (Hake, 1998; Powell, 2003). Further examination of learning in active engagement classrooms suggests that the learning environment mediates the quality of knowledge built because the learning environment facilitates students in developing identities in relation to the discipline (Boaler, 2002). Therefore we must study student learning as identity development in addition to conceptual knowledge building. The purpose of this chapter is to build a model of social learning to frame the construct of physics learning identity. This will enable further development of analytical tools to measure and examine students’ learning identity as they engage with the classroom community of practice.

Research Areas: Instructional meterials development