Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education

Department

Teacher Education

First Advisor

William J. Sumrall

Second Advisor

Rosemary Oliphant-Ingham

Third Advisor

Douglas R. Davis

Abstract

This mixed-method study represents a broad evaluation of the physics views of Mississippi physics students and physicists, along with an analysis of graduate school data, in a search for answers which might improve physics education in Mississippi. Descriptive statistics were calculated using data from eight graduate degree programs (from Fall 2003 through Full Summer 2012) at the University of Mississippi. This was done to find the percent of graduate degrees in each degree program which were awarded to in-state residents. It was found that of the eight University of Mississippi graduate degree programs in the study, two programs awarded a lower percentage of their graduate degrees to in-state residents than did the Physics graduate degree program. Also, data from graduate schools of five other U.S. universities from other states was compared with the data from the University of Mississippi graduate school. This was done in order to measure the percentage of physics graduate degrees which were awarded to in-state residents at each university. It was found that the University of Mississippi awarded a higher percentage of its physics graduate degrees to in-state residents than any of the other five universities in this study. Another part of this study was devoted to recording the physics views of physics students and physicists in Mississippi. Data was gathered via survey forms which measured the physics views of 16 physicists and 113 physics students. Descriptive statistics of the student and professor survey forms were used to gather a broad description of physics views. The descriptive statistics portrayed evidence of possible weaknesses in physics self-efficacy within a sample of female physics lab students. The written responses of the students and professors were transcribed and categorized into themes. A total of 10 students and 17 physicists were interviewed, including 5 physicists who were categorized as native Mississippi physicists. The interviews were transcribed and categorized into broad themes. The physics views of Mississippi physicists and students were documented and recorded for future use by researchers or educators. Important historical documentation concerning Mississippi physics was gathered and recorded.

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