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Abstract Title: How physics students learn, adapt, and defy unspoken cultural expectations
Abstract: Many physics students hold the belief that a career in physics is not intended for people like them, but use characteristics of stubbornness and passion for the subject to defy expectations. Factors such as age, employment, parenting, commuting, national origin, ethnicity, gender, and family background influence students' behavior in academic physics settings, which reveals a set of implicit cultural expectations for undergraduate physics majors in a large research university. During a fifteen-month period of observation of upper division physics transfer students, study participants adapted to the unfamiliar environment and cultivated an active community focused on inclusion. The discussions and activities within this community highlight the elements of traditional lecture-based physics education that isolate and discourage students. At the same time, students make a livable working environment for themselves using strategies of resistance and mutual support. Patterns and complexities in transfer student progress through an undergraduate physics degree are reported.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session III
Poster Number: C9

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Mary Chessey
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
and Co-Presenter(s)
David J. Webb, University of California, Davis