Students often complain that they cannot see the relevance of what they are being taught in foundation physics classes. While revising and adjusting the curriculum and teaching are important, this study suggests it might also be useful to help students view their learning in relation to their future career aspirations. This paper reports on a study conducted with first-year students enrolled in a compulsory foundation physics unit with a history of low pass rates. Working within a "possible selves" framework, activities were designed to help students position their learning in relation to possible future lives and careers. Two cohorts of students (N=93) engaged in an intensive workshop comprising multiple activities relating to self and career. Self-reflection worksheets were analyzed using content analysis. The results indicate that students experience immediate benefits from these activities through self-reflection on the current self, future possible professional selves, and the role of current studies in narrowing the gap between the two.
|Physical Review Physics Education Research
|Published - 7 Mar 2016