Correlates of gender and achievement in introductory algebra based physics
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The field of physics is heavily male dominated in America. Thus, half of the population of our country is underrepresented and underserved. The identification of factors that contribute to gender disparity in physics is necessary for educators to address the individual needs of students, and, in particular, the separate and specific needs of female students. In an effort to determine if any correlations could be established or strengthened between sex, gender identity, social network, algebra skill, scientific reasoning ability, and/or student attitude, a study was performed on a group of 82 students in an introductory algebra based physics course. The subjects each filled out a survey at the beginning of the semester of their first semester of algebra based physics. They filled out another survey at the end of that same semester. These surveys included physics content pretests and posttests, as well as questions about the students' habits, attitudes, and social networks. Correlates of posttest score were identified, in order of significance, as pretest score, emphasis on conceptual learning, preference for male friends, number of siblings (negatively correlated), motivation in physics, algebra score, and parents' combined education level. Number of siblings was also found to negatively correlate with, in order of significance, gender identity, preference for male friends, emphasis on conceptual learning, and motivation in physics. Preference for male friends was found to correlate with, in order of significance, emphasis on conceptual learning, gender identity, and algebra score. Also, gender identity was found to correlate with emphasis on conceptual learning, the strongest predictor of posttest score other than pretest score.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Methodology -- Results and discussion -- Conclusion -- Appendix: Items included on survey