Who can become a physicist? Discourse, culture and identity in physics education
Anders Johansson has a background in several disciplines, both physics and gender studies. Using an interdisciplinary approach to bring a gender perspective into his main field of study, physics education research, Anders’ PhD project takes issues of recruitment and retention as its starting point. Who is attracted to physics and who stays at the education long enough to become a “physicist” is not only a question of individual abilities or choices, but is also influenced by the disciplinary culture of physics and specific discourses at institutions and educational programmes. Using discourse, identity and related theoretical perspectives, and qualitative inquiry methods such as participant observation and group interviews, Anders explores questions such as: How is the culture of physics experienced and constructed by students? In what ways do students’ experiences of their study climate influence their learning and participation? What norms regarding social identity are experienced and enacted by students and how are these specific norms related to broader societal norms regarding gender, cultural background, etc.?
Anders’ research project have until now mostly focused on second year physics courses at the university, crucial steps to becoming a physicist. Some of these results have been presented and defended in the licentiate thesis Uniformity in physics courses and student diversity: A study of learning to participate in physics.
Apart from research, Anders has been involved in teaching courses in gender studies, teacher education and in supervising bachelor students doing physics education research projects.