I really enjoyed reading and thinking about this post: What Computing Education Research does that Engineering Ed and Physics Ed Research doesn’t
One of the claims put forth in the post is the Computing Education Research (CER) community seems to have more lively and stronger focus on broadening participation than either the Physics Education Research (PER) of Engineering Education Research (EER) communities. From that post:
“Carl [Wieman] said that gender diversity just wasn’t a priority in PER. I dug into the PER groups around the US. From what I could find, he’s right. Eric Mazur’s group has one paper on this issue, from 2006 (see here). I couldn’t find any at U. Washington or at Boulder. There probably is work on gender diversity in physics education research, but it certainly doesn’t stand out like the broadening participation in computing effort in the United States.”
I thought I would dig a little deeper, and do just a quick survey of all articles published in Physical Review–Special Topics in Physics Education Research, which touched upon gender, participation, or highlighted international research. I should note that the list below is based on titles only–I didn’t read the abstracts or the papers. While this isn’t a thorough analysis, it paints a slightly less bleak picture than one paper published almost a decade ago.
Note: I’m certainly not looking to pick a fight about PER vs. CER or EER. I feel much like the author of the post, who writes:
“I don’t have a deep bottom-line here… My exploration of EER and PER gave me a new appreciation that CER has something special. It’s not as big or established as EER or PER, but we’re collaborative, international, working on hard and important problems, and using a wide variety of methods, from in-classroom to laboratory studies. That’s pretty cool.”
The authors post has made me pause to think about our priorities and prodded me to dig a little deeper into the data to see what the situation is beyond just trusting Carl’s Wieman’s comment and a quick examination of just two research groups.
Note 2: I also added relevant presentations from most recent PER Conference.
Female physicist doctoral experiences Katherine P. Dabney and Robert H. Tai. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 9, 010115 (2013) – Published 10 April 2013
Characterizing the gender gap in introductory physics Lauren E. Kost, Steven J. Pollock, and Noah D. Finkelstein. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5, 010101 (2009) – Published 8 January 2009
Eric Brewe, Vashti Sawtelle, Laird H. Kramer, George E. O’Brien, Idaykis Rodriguez, and Priscilla Pamelá. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 6, 010106 (2010) – Published 20 May 2010
Secondary implementation of interactive engagement teaching techniques: Choices and challenges in a Gulf Arab context G. W. Hitt, A. F. Isakovic, O. Fawwaz, M. S. Bawa’aneh, N. El-Kork, S. Makkiyil, and I. A. Qattan. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res 10, 020123 – Published 6 October 2014
Introduction of interactive learning into French university physics classrooms Alexander L. Rudolph, Brahim Lamine, Michael Joyce, Hélène Vignolles, and David Consiglio. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 10, 010103 (2014) – Published 27 January 2014
Presentations at 2014 PER Conference:
Exposure to underrepresentation discussion: The impacts on women’s attitudes and identities by Geoff Potvin, Zahra Hazari, Robynne Lock
Female Students’ Persistence and Engagement in Physics: The Role of High School Experiences by Zahra Hazari, Eric Brewe, Theodore Hodapp, Renee Michelle Goertzen, Robynne M. Lock, Cheryl A. P. Cass
The Impacts of Instructor and Student Gender on Student Performance in Introductory Modeling Instruction Courses by Daryl McPadden, Eric Brewe.
The Long Term Impacts of Modeling Physics: The Performance of Men and Women in Follow-on Upper Level Physics Courses by Idaykis Rodriguez, Eric Brewe, Laird H. Kramer.
The Experiences of Women in Post Graduate Physics and Astronomy Programs: The Roles of Support, Career Goals, and Gendered Experiences by Ramon Barthelemy Melinda McCormick, Charles Henderson
Discussing Underrepresentation as a Means to Increasing Female Physics Identity by Robynne M. Lock , Zahra Hazari, Reganne Tompkins
Exploring the gender gap in one department’s algebra-based physics course by Twanelle Walker Majors, Paula V. Engelhardt, Steve J. Robinson
Race and Gender and Leaving STEM: Preliminary Results of The Roots of STEM Project by Melissa Dancy Elizabeth Stearns, Roslyn Mickelson, Stephanie Moller, Martha Bottia
I’m not sure what this mean, if anything yet, but that’s what I did this morning. Making this list doesn’t prove anything about our fields priority in these matters–we’d have to look at funding, impacts, white papers, etc. But for me, it’s a beginning in looking into it
If you feel I missed an important Physical Review paper or PERC 2014 presentation, let me know in the comments.