Revealing shifts from mastery of knowledge to problem solving in assessments of a tertiary physics programme
There is increasing pressure generally for lecturers to adapt their supervision practices of postgraduate students to better prepare postgraduate students for careers outside of academia. In this paper we examine what such pressure may mean for the supervision and preparation of theoretical physicists specifically, theoretical physics being a sub-discipline of physics usually perceived as a highly specialised niche area of scientific practice. In this exploratory study we apply the concepts of the Specialisation Dimension of Legitimation Code Theory to analyse and reveal the dominant concepts and codes, as well as the code shifts that may occur during postgraduate studies, based on an autoethnographic account of theoretical physicist identity development. The findings demonstrate an underpinning value for both knowledge and knower attributes in the journey to becoming a legitimate theoretical physicist, and the critical role played by postgraduate supervisors in facilitating the process of theoretical physicist identity development. Also highlighted are possible implications for supervisors faced with students intending to take up employment outside of academia.
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