Physics identity development through meaningful classroom experiences

Event information
Venue:OE 134

"Physics identity development through meaningful classroom experiences"

Dr. Zahra Hazari, Clemson University


Many students are disempowered in physics classes, finding them to be more difficult, unpleasant, narrow, and masculine when compared to other subjects. What, then, can physics teachers do to help students, particularly females, engage in more personally meaningful ways when learning physics? Beginning with an examination of overall gender differences in physics, this talk addresses the ways in which physics classroom experiences shape students’ physics identities. I will draw on evidence from three studies: two national survey studies as well as qualitative case studies of four purposefully-selected high school physics teachers (NSF 0115649, 0624444, and 0952460). Employing a physics identity framework, I will discuss why such a perspective is a powerful lens of analysis, how it has been operationalized, and how high school physics experiences are related to student engagement and physics identity development. The ultimate goal of this work is to begin to shift the tide of disinterest in physics by engaging students in more personally meaningful ways during their physics classes.

Zahra Hazari is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering & Science Education at Clemson University. Before completing a Ph.D. in science education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the University of Toronto, she earned a B.S. in physics and mathematics and an M.S. in physics. She was a national postdoctoral fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Her current work is supported by an NSF CAREER grant and an NSF Gender grant, and has been featured in Science Magazine, the APS News, Scientific American, and LiveScience.