Physics Ph.D. graduate links factors such as persistence and success in STEM

Image Jacqueline Doyle's work cuts across disciplinary lines to examine the identities and experiences of engineers in the context of physics experiences. Her work has theoretical importance for our understanding of how students' pre-college and college experiences impact their attitudes towards STEM disciplines, their college major intentions, and how various measures of students' beliefs and attitudes are associated to one another.

Jackie is looking at many different factors of student affect that have been previously associated with things like persistence and success in STEM (both in school and eventual careers) and further linking them together, looking at associations between these factors and student identity as a physics person.

She mapped out the space of student beliefs using a new technique in education research called topological data analysis (TDA) to identify what the attitudinal profile of a “normative” engineering student looks like without assuming certain demographics a priori, like looking at the beliefs of white male engineers and declaring that to be normative, but instead letting the data drive that classification emergently.

Jackie examined how some of these factors (specifically, student identities as physics or engineering people) and the relationship between them evolve over time as they progress through their engineering programs.