program_wb_i - page 135

July 26–30, 2014
Wednesday morning
Session FJ: Strategies for Teachers
and Professors to Support Female
Location: STSS 312
Sponsor: Committee on Women in Physics
Date: Wednesday, July 30
Time: 8:30–9:20 a.m.
Presider: Jessica Bartley
8:30-9 a.m. Gateway to STEM: Improving 3-D Spatial
Invited – Sheryl Sorby, The Ohio State University, 19817 Haapapuro Rd
Houghton, MI 49931;
The ability to visualize in three dimensions is a cognitive skill that has been
shown to be important for success in engineering and other technologi-
cal fields. For engineeRring, the ability to mentally rotate 3-D objects is
especially important. Unfortunately, of all the cognitive skills, 3-D rotation
abilities exhibit robust gender differences, favoring males. The assessment
of 3-D spatial skills and associated gender differences has been a topic
of educational research for nearly a century; however, a great deal of the
previous work has been aimed at merely identifying differences. For nearly
two decades, the author has been conducting research aimed at identifying
practical methods for improving 3-D spatial skills, especially for women
engineering students. This presentation details the significant findings
obtained over the past several years through this research and identifies
strategies that appear to be effective in developing 3-D spatial skills and
in contributing to student success. Data obtained for students enrolled in
introductory physics courses will also be presented.
9-9:10 a.m. Spatial Reasoning/Visual Cognition Skills –
Does it Matter?
Contributed – Ximena C. Cid, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-
It is known that science students have higher spatial reasoning skills than
non-science students, and previous research suggests that physicists have
the highest spatial reasoning skills amongst STEM fields. Though a lot of
research in engineering education has shown a correlation between suc-
cess of female students and their spatial reasoning scores, little work has
been done in physics. This talk will discuss some work that has been done
exploring the relationship between spatial reasoning skills and student
success in physics.
Session FK: Additional Strategies to
Support Female Students
Location: STSS 312
Sponsor: AAPT
Date: Wednesday, July 30
Time: 9:20–10:10 a.m.
Presider: Jessica Bartley
9:20-9:30 a.m. Effect of Instructor Gender on Modeling
Instruction FCI Scores
Contributed – Daryl McPadden, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Eric Brewe, Florida International University
This study focuses on the impact of instructor gender on the gender gap
in students’ scores on the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) in Modeling
Instruction (MI) courses at Florida International University (FIU). A pre-
vious study from Brewe et. al. has shown that while MI had increased FCI
scores as compared to traditional lecture courses, the gap between male
students’ scores and female students’ scores increased over the semester.
Data was taken from 599 students at FIU, over 19 semesters, with 11
different instructors (4 female, 7 male). Effect size is calculated from the
difference in female students’ scores from male students’ scores, and the ef-
fect size is compared between instructor genders. A linear regression is also
used to determine if instructor gender is a significant factor in predicting a
student’s FCI score post-instruction.
1. E. Brewe et. al.,
Phys. Rev. ST-PER
, 010106 (2010).
9:30-9:40 a.m. Studio Seating Arrangements and the
Gender Gap in Introductory Physics
Contributed – Andrew G. Duffy, Boston University, Physics, Boston, MA
Bennett B. Goldberg, Pankaj Mehta, Boston University, Physics
Fall 2013 was our first large-scale studio implementation in the introduc-
tory physics course for life-science majors at Boston University. That
semester, we observed a gender gap in both the three studio sections of
the course and the two lecture sections that was similar to that observed
at other places. Specifically, males, on average, did better than females. In
spring 2013, we experimented with different seating arrangements in the
three studio sections. One section had random groups, another had homo-
geneous groups, and the third had heterogeneous groups. We will report
on the outcome of that experiment.
9:40-9:50 a.m. Discussing Underrepresentation as a
Means to Increasing Female Physics Identity
Contributed – Robynne M. Lock, Texas A&M University Commerce, Depart-
ment of Physics and Astronomy, Commerce, TX 75429-3011; robynne.lock@
Reganne Tompkins, Clemson University
Zahra Hazari Florida, International University
Despite the fact that approximately half of high school physics students
are female, only 21 percent of physics bachelor’s degrees are awarded
to women. In a previous study, drawn from a national survey of college
students in introductory English courses, five factors commonly proposed
to positively impact female students’ choice of a physical science career
were tested using multivariate matching methods. The only factor found
to have a positive effect was the explicit discussion of the underrepresenta-
tion of women in physics. In order to explore this further, a case study of
the classes of one teacher reported to discuss the underrepresentation of
women was conducted. Two classroom underrepresentation discussions
were recorded, students and teacher were interviewed, and relevant student
work was collected. Analyzing the case study data using a figured worlds
framework, we report on how discussing underrepresentation may create
opportunities to increase the physics identities of female students.
9:50-10 a.m. Examination of Pathways to Excellence
Scholarship Program for Women in STEM Fields
Contributed – Joseph Di Rienzi, 4701 North Charles St., Baltimore, MD
Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) is in the third year of an
NSF S-STEM grant (1060595), Pathways to Excellence, providing 10
scholarships annually to academically talented women undergraduates
with demonstrated financial need who are pursuing degrees in mathemat-
ics, physics, computer information systems, or engineering. The program
has a tri-part mentoring system with a faculty member in the student’s
discipline, a peer from the program and an alumnae. Scholars also take
an annual thematic seminar course. Each student constructs a career de-
velopment plan in assistance with her faculty mentor and sets measurable
annual goals. In addition, all scholarship students are requested to have
an experiential experience. As a result, NDMU aims to strengthen its role
in increasing the numbers of well-educated and skilled women employees
from diverse backgrounds, including first-generation college students, in
technical and scientific areas. Early assessment of the program produced
modifications and now these can be evaluated.
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