Belonging in Physics


  • Jacinta L. den Besten The University of Melbourne
  • Elizabeth Angstmann The University of New South Wales


Many students in first year physics often struggle to feel like they belong in their physics classes or in the physics community. This may be due to their belonging to a minority group such as gender, cultural or being the first in their family to attend university. Hearing and sharing lived experiences in physics from their teachers and fellow students can help students understand that they are not alone and that having such feelings and experiences will not exclude them from studying physics in the future. Helping students to understand they have similar experiences to their colleagues and observe the success of past students, enables a sense of belonging and strengthens connections and engagement.

This workshop will explore the idea of creating the sense of belonging in the physics classroom and work through student activities developed by Professor Chandralekha Singh and colleagues* that you can take back to your own classrooms.

* ‘How to Enhance Physics by Making it Inclusive’

Intended Audience: Undergraduate Physics Educators

Author Biographies

Jacinta L. den Besten, The University of Melbourne

Jacinta den Besten is a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne and coordinates the first-year physics program there. Jacinta has over a decade of experience in secondary and tertiary education as well as a further decade in physics and astronomy outreach.

Elizabeth Angstmann, The University of New South Wales

Elizabeth Angstmann is a professor at the University of New South Wales and coordinates the first-year physics program there. Liz is the Chair of the Australian Institute of Physics, Physics Education Group and has over a decade of experience teaching physics to in-service teachers and secondary and tertiary students.