Physics identity development: A snapshot of the stages of development of upper-level physics students

Paul W Irving, Eleanor C Sayre


As part of a longitudinal study into identity development in upper- level physics students a phenomenographic research method is employed to assess the stages of identity development of a group of upper-level students. Three categories of description were discovered which indicate the three different stages of identity development for this group of students: Student, Aspiring Physicist, and Physicist. The main influences on the stages of identity development were found to be: ideas of when one becomes a physicist, career definitiveness, and metacognitive level.


identity development; STEM students; phenomenography; professional development

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