Exploring the Physics Summer Program Experiences of Undergraduate Students Underrepresented in the Physical Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type


Publication Title

American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2017 Annual Meeting

Conference Location

San Antonio, TX


This study examines how participation in a physics summer program shapes positioning, sense of belonging, and identity trajectories for incoming undergraduate students who are underrepresented in the physical sciences. Using program observations, student surveys, and interviews, this research captures the complexity of first-generation and other underrepresented college students’ experiences as they enter physical science majors at a large university. Findings illustrate that a complex intersection of identity, positioning, access to relational resources, and agency to perform knowledge in ways valued by the group contributed to feelings of belonging in the summer program and the physical sciences more broadly. Findings can be used to create program resources that broaden opportunities for participation, foster community and support retention in the physical sciences.


Science Education; Teacher Education