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

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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.


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Irving, P. W., & Sayre, E. C. (2013). Physics identity development: A snapshot of the stages of development of upper-level physics students. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 13(4), 68–84. Retrieved from
Author Biographies

Paul W Irving, Kansas State University

Physics Department, postdoc

Eleanor C Sayre, Kansas State University

Physics department, Assistant Professor


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