Virtual Journal Club - Article Summary - Support Structures

Departmental support structures for physics graduate students: Development and
psychometric evaluation of a self-report instrument
By Diana Sachmpazidi and Charles Henderson
Date & Time of Journal Club: Monday, June 27th 2022 at 12pmPT/3pmET

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The American Physical Society’s Bridge Program (APS-BP) has significantly higher persistence rates than
physics graduate education across the country (90% vs 60%). Motivated by this early positive outcome,
the researchers aimed to explore and offer empirical evidence as to what aspects of the Bridge Program
contribute to these higher persistence rates. This paper describes the development and psychometric
evaluation of a survey instrument, the “Aspects of Student Experience Scale (ASES)”, that was designed to
evaluate physics graduate students’ experiences related to different forms of departmental support that
may have made the APS-BP successful, namely: (a) mentoring and research experience, (b) professional
development, (c) social and academic integration, and (d) financial support. This paper supports the
ongoing development and validation of this survey tool.397 physics graduate students across 19
programs participated in the study. The initial findings reported here reveal that graduate students
experience adequate mentoring and financial support, but have limited social and academic integration
or professional development. Practitioners may be able to use ASES to identify, based on students’
perspectives, which practices they may need to address to better support the student experience.

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