March 16, 2024
Delaware State University, Bank of America Building
US/Eastern timezone
See you all the the Fall 2024 Meeting on Saturday, Oct. 19 @ JLab/Zoom !

Social Dynamics around a Black Woman’s Equipment Handling in a Physics Lab

Mar 16, 2024, 10:45 AM
BOA 101 (Delaware State University, Bank of America Building)

BOA 101

Delaware State University, Bank of America Building

1200 N. DuPont Highway Dover, DE 19901
Talk (15 minutes) BOA 101


Mark Akubo (University of Delaware)


In undergraduate physics laboratory courses, there is new emphasis on engaging students in authentic science learning experiences centering on knowledge-building. Limited research, however, has sufficiently explored the ranges of positioning dynamics around equipment handling roles, particularly in gender and racially diverse groups. This is especially true for the experiences of women of color. We seek to identify and describe the dynamics of students’ positioning around equipment handling in multiple diverse groups that included a Black Woman who indicated preference towards handling lab equipment. We draw on literature on positioning theory, discourse analysis, roles, small groups, and physics labs to analyze episodes of video on the groups. We characterize each group’s dynamics, identified participants’ roles around equipment handling, and wrote memos on the positioning dynamics. We find that students enacted three positioning dynamics in the groups: explicit assignment, implicit assignment, and explicit negotiation. Also, different positioning dynamics and distinct types of interactions across groups shaped the Black woman’s participation around the equipment handling role. The complexities in interactions and positioning dynamics across groups increase the weight of evidence that suggests explicit role assignment in small groups does not guarantee group work equity.

Primary author

Mark Akubo (University of Delaware)


Emily Stump, (Cornell University) Prof. Natasha Holmes (Cornell University)

Presentation materials