Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

John Archibald Wheeler : a study of mentoring in modern physics Public Deposited

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  • This dissertation has two objectives. The first objective is to determine where best to situate the study of mentoring (i.e. the 'making of scientists') on the landscape of the history of science and science studies. This task is accomplished by establishing mentoring studies as a link between the robust body of literature dealing with Research Schools and the emerging scholarship surrounding the development, dispersion, and evolution of pedagogy in the training of twentieth century physicists. The second, and perhaps more significant and novel objective, is to develop a means to quantitatively assess the mentoring workmanship of scientific craftsmen who preside over the final stages of preparation when apprentices are transformed into professional scientists. The project builds upon a 2006 Master's Thesis that examined John Archibald Wheeler’s work as a mentor of theoretical physicists at Princeton University in the years 1938 - 1976. It includes Wheeler's work as a mentor at the University of Texas and is qualitatively and quantitatively enhanced by virtue of the author having access to five separate collections with archival holdings of John Wheeler's papers and correspondence, as well as having access to thirty one tape recorded interviews that feature John Wheeler as either the interviewee or a prominent subject of discussion. The project also benefited from the opportunity to meet with and gather background information from a number of John Wheeler's former colleagues and students. Included in the dissertation is a content analysis of the acknowledgments in 949 Ph.D. dissertations, 122 Master's Theses, and 670 Senior Theses that were submitted during Wheeler's career as an active mentor. By establishing a census of the students of the most active mentors at Princeton and Texas, it is possible to tabulate the publication record of these apprentice groups and obtain objective measures of mentoring efficacy. The dissertation concludes by discussing the wider applicability of the quantitative methodology and the qualitative analysis for the history of science and science studies.
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