Promoting equity in introductory physics: An identity perspective on learning physics and learning to teach
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If the goal of teaching introductory physics is to help every student have successful learning experiences, then we need to answer at least two key questions to achieve this goal. First, what instructional strategies will promote equitable success for students? And second, how can we prepare instructors to use these teaching strategies effectively? Prior research demonstrates a persistent gender gap in introductory physics; however, we find that physics identity mediates the impact of gender on both conceptual understanding and retention in physics programs. Therefore, we apply Wenger's framework of identity development in communities of practice to hypothesize that collaborative, community-building instructional strategies can promote equity by enabling women's identification with physics. Through meta-analysis of results from 26 courses, we find trends in three different models of equity that support this hypothesis. To address our second question, we apply a similar community-based model to TA professional development. We find that teaching communities of practice can yield statistically significant improvements in TAs' identification as physics educators and make qualitative changes to TAs' teaching approaches.