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Who Becomes a Physics Major? A Long-term Longitudinal Study Examining the Roles of Pre-college Beliefs about Physics and Learning Physics, Interest, and Academic Achievement Documents

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Who Becomes a Physics Major? A Long-term Longitudinal Study Examining the Roles of Pre-college Beliefs about Physics and Learning Physics, Interest, and Academic Achievement 

written by Katherine K. Perkins and M. Gratny

In this paper, we examine the correlation between students' beliefs upon entering college and their likelihood of continuing on to become a physics major. Since 2004, we have collected CLASS survey and self-reported level-of-interest responses from students in the first-term, introductory calculus-based physics course (N>2500). Here, we conduct a retrospective analysis of students' incoming CLASS scores and level of interest, comparing those students who go on to become physics majors with those who do not. We find the incoming CLASS scores and reported interest of these future physics majors to be substantially higher than the class average, indicating that these students enter their first college course already having quite expert-like beliefs. The comparative differences are much smaller for grades, SAT score, and university predicted-GPA.

Published August 24, 2010
Last Modified November 1, 2010

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