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      Investigating society's educational debts due to racism and sexism in student attitudes about physics using quantitative critical race theory

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          Abstract

          The American Physical Society calls on its members to improve the diversity of physics by supporting an inclusive culture that encourages women and Black, Indigenous, and people of color to become physicists. In the current educational system, it is unlikely for a student to become a physicist if they do not share the same attitudes about what it means to learn and do physics as those held by most professional physicists. Evidence shows college physics courses and degree programs do not support students in developing these attitudes. Rather physics education filters out students who do not enter college physics courses with these attitudes. To better understand the role of attitudes in the lack of diversity in physics, we investigated the intersecting relationships between racism and sexism in inequities in student attitudes about learning and doing physics using a critical quantitative framework. The analyses used hierarchical linear models to examine students attitudes as measured by the Colorado learning attitudes about science survey. The data came from the LASSO database and included 2170 students in 46 calculus-based mechanics courses and 2503 students in 49 algebra-based mechanics courses taught at 18 institutions. Like prior studies, we found that attitudes either did not change or slightly decreased for most groups. Results identified large differences across intersecting race and gender groups representing educational debts society owes these students. White students, particularly White men in calculus-based courses, tended to have more expert-like attitudes than any other group of students. Instruction that addresses society's educational debts can help move physics toward an inclusive culture supportive of diverse students and professionals.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          12 March 2021
          Article
          10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.17.010116
          2103.07336
          6ac3e255-6a24-4fcc-b785-9150ce4ccd7e

          http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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          Custom metadata
          23 pages, 6 figures. Physical Review Physics Education Research (2021)
          physics.ed-ph

          General physics
          General physics

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