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So Unfair it’s Fair: Equipment handling in remote versus in-person introductory physics labs

Cornell Affiliated Author(s)


M. Dew
A.M. Phillips
S. Karunwi
A. Baksh
E.M. Stump
N.G. Holmes


While understanding laboratory equipment is an important learning goal of physics laboratory (lab) instruction, previous studies have found inequities as to who gets to use equipment in in-person lab classes. With the transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, class dynamics changed and the effects on equipment usage remain unclear. As part of a larger effort to make intro physics labs more equitable, we investigated student equipment usage based on gender and race in two introductory physics lab courses, one taught in-person and one taught remotely. We found inequities between men and women for in-person instruction, replicating previous work with a new student population. In contrast, we found that remote instruction created a more gender equitable learning environment, albeit with one student typically in charge of the equipment per class session. When we looked at equipment handling based on student race, we found no inequities in either format. These results suggest that changes should be made in introductory labs to create a more gender equitable learning environment and that some aspects of remote labs could help make these labs more equitable. © 2022, American Association of Physics Teachers. All rights reserved.

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Natasha Holmes Group

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