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Joint Physics & Psychology PhD

Physics social identity, the gender gap and approaches to learning

A team of researchers in Physics and Psychology were delighted to get approval for St Leonard’s College Interdisciplinary Doctoral Scholarship to support this project.

Vivienne Wild and Antje Kohnle (Physics) have been collaborating with Paula Miles and Ken Mavor (Psychology) on a project examining reasons for the gender gap at higher levels of the Physics program. This joint PhD represents a big step forward in progressing this project. The PhD will be jointly supervised across Psychology and Physics.

Project Description

Gender differences in undergraduate university physics outcomes have received a great deal of recent attention, but the underlying mechanisms are still under debate. Various mechanisms have been explored, amongst others gender socialization, peer group effects, self-efficacy, stereotype threat and social identity threat. This project takes an interdisciplinary approach, integrating local expertise in social and educational psychology and in physics. 
The PhD project brings together two well-established lines of research: (1) the gender gap in physics incorporating models of physics identity, sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and performance (Hazari, Sonnert, Sadler, & Shanahan, 2010), and (2) social identity models incorporating discipline identity, peer norms, with learning-enhancing and learning-undermining approaches (Mavor, Platow, & Bizumic, 2017). The project will investigate the possible mediating role of approaches to learning as a mechanism through which gender identity threats may operate to impact on grades. 

The full PhD advertisement is available here:

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