Differences in Physics Self-Efficacy Among Personal and Course-wide Variables

  • Hans Eric Muehsler Northern Illinois University

Abstract

Lab activities are a vital part of physics courses, providing students with hands-on experiences of classroom topics. At the same time, building self-efficacy is vital to student learning and retention; however, females traditionally have lower self-efficacy in STEM fields. This research explores the role of gender and the changes in interest in physics and the relation to changes in self-efficacy, as well as the interactions with math ability, the number of labs, and hours spent in the lab. Data from 260 institutions containing responses from over 11,000 women and 14,000 men was used. The self-efficacy construct was created from the E-CLASS survey. A two-level multi-level model was used to analyze the data. Level one variables included gender and change in physics interest. Level two variables included number of labs, hours spent in the lab, and math level; the dependent variable was change in self-efficacy. Change in interest positively correlated with change in self-efficacy, with women having a more favorable change. While the number of labs per semester was not a significant predictor of change in self-efficacy, females could tolerate more labs for no change in self-efficacy than men. Further, the gender effect (greater favorable change in self-efficacy for women) reverses with men showing a greater favorable change in self-efficacy than women after approximately 3.5 hours in the lab. Finally, math level had a positive correlation with change in interest and change in self-efficacy, with algebra-based labs demonstrating a more pronounced effect.

References

AAPT (1992). Role of labs in high school physics, from American Association of Physics Teachers: https://www.aapt.org/resources/policy/roleoflabs.cfm#:~:text=Laboratory%20activities%20in%20high%20school,predictive%20power%20of%20their%20reasoning.
Aiken, J. (2021). A new data set for physics education research, from https://towardsdatascience.com/a-new-data-set-for-physics-education-research-25631745919.
Aiken, J. M., & Lewandowski, H. J. (2021). Data sharing model for physics education research using the 70 000 response Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey for Experimental Physics dataset. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 17(2).
American Institute of Physics (AIP) (Ed.). 2003. Conference Proceedings: AIP.
Anderson, S. L., & Betz, N. E. (2001). Sources of social self-efficacy expectations: Their measurement and relation to career Development. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 58(1), 98–117.
Betz, N. E., & Hackett, G. (1986). Applications of self-efficacy theory to understanding career choice behavior. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 4(3), 279–289.
Brewe, E., Kramer, L., & O’Brien, G. (2009). Modeling instruction: Positive attitudinal shifts in introductory physics measured with CLASS. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 5(1), 121.
Brown, S. D., Lent, R. W., & Larkin, K. C. (1989). Self-efficacy as a moderator of scholastic aptitude-academic performance relationships. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 35(1), 64–75.
Cavallo, A. M., Potter, W. H., & Rozman, M. (2004). Gender differences in learning constructs, shifts in learning constructs, and their relationship to course achievement in a structured inquiry, yearlong college physics course for life science majors. School Science and Mathematics, 104(6), 288–300.
Code, J. (2020). Agency for Learning: Intention, Motivation, Self-Efficacy and Self-Regulation. Frontiers in Education, 5.
Dou, R., Brewe, E., Zwolak, J. P., Potvin, G., Williams, E. A., & Kramer, L. H. (2016). Beyond performance metrics: Examining a decrease in students’ physics self-efficacy through a social networks lens. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12(2), 1.
Espinosa, T., Miller, K., Araujo, I., & Mazur, E. (2019). Reducing the gender gap in students’ physics self-efficacy in a team- and project-based introductory physics class. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 15(1), 1.
Goodman, I. F., Cunningham, C. M., Lachapelle, C., Thompson, M., Bittinger, K., Brennan, R. T., & Delci, M. (2002). Final report of the women’s experiences in college engineering (WECE) project. Cambridge, MA: Goodman Research Group, Inc, from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED507395.pdf.
Hazari, Z., Sonnert, G., Sadler, P. M., & Shanahan, M.-C. (2010). Connecting high school physics experiences, outcome expectations, physics identity, and physics career choice: A gender study. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 2(6).
Hox, J. J., & Maas, C. J. M. (2002). Sample sizes for multilevel modeling. In J. Blasius, J. Hox, E. de Leeuw, & P. Schmidt (Eds.), Social Science Methodology in the New Millennium (2nd ed.). Opladen, RG: Leske + Budrich Verlag.
Ivie, R., White, S., & Chu, R. Y. (2016). Women’s and men’s career choices in astronomy and astrophysics. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12(2).
Kalender, Z. Y., Marshman, E., Nokes-Malach, T., Schunn, C., & Singh, C. (2018). Large gender differences in physics self-efficacy at equal performance levels: A warning sign. In Proceedings of the 2018 Physics Education Research Conference .
Kost, L. E., Pollock, S. J., & Finkelstein, N. D. (2009). Characterizing the gender gap in introductory physics. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 5(1), 288.
Kost-Smith, L. E., Pollock, S. J., & Finkelstein, N. D. (2010). Gender disparities in second-semester college physics: The incremental effects of a “smog of bias”. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 6(2), 225.
Kost-Smith, L. E. (2011). Characterizing, modeling, and addressing gender disparities in introductory college physics. Dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1994). Toward a unifying social cognitive theory of career and academic interest, choice, and performance. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 45(1), 79–122.
Lent, R. W., Lopez, F. G., & Bieschke, K. J. (1993). Predicting mathematics-related choice and success behaviors: Test of an expanded social cognitive model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 42(2), 223–236.
Lindstrøm, C., & Sharma, M. (2011). Self-efficacy of first year university physics students: Do gender and prior formal instruction in physics matter? Int. Journal of Innovation in Science and. Mathematics, 19(1).
Marshman, E. M., Kalender, Z. Y., Nokes-Malach, T., Schunn, C., & Singh, C. (2018). Female students with A’s have similar physics self-efficacy as male students with C’s in introductory courses: A cause for alarm? Physical Review Physics Education Research, 14(2), 82.
Martin, J. (2004). Self-regulated learning, social cognitive theory, and agency. Educational Psychologist, 39(2), 135–145.
Muthen, B. O., & Satorra, A. (1995). Complex sample data in structural equation modeling. Sociological Methodology, 25, 267.
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2017). Digest of education statistics: 2016 Tables and figures: Table 318.30: Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by sex of student and discipline division: 2014-15.
National Science Foundation (NSF) (2017). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. Washington, D. C.: National Science Foundation.
Nissen, J. M., & Shemwell, J. T. (2016). Gender, experience, and self-efficacy in introductory physics. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12(2), 1–16.
Pajares, F. (2004). Gender differences in mathematics self-efficacy beliefs. In Gender Differences in Mathematics (1st ed., pp. 294–315). Cambridge University Press.
S.1701 - 115th Congress (2017-2018) (2017). Fair access to science and technology research act of 2017.
Sawtelle, V., Brewe, E., Kramer, L. H., Singh, C., Sabella, M., & Rebello, S. (2010). Positive impacts of modeling instruction on self-efficacy. In : AIP Conference Proceedings, PERC Conference Proceedings (pp. 289–292). AIP.
Shunter (2022). Dissemination and sharing of research results | NSF - National Science Foundation. Retrieved April 06, 2022.446Z, from https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp.
Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2001). Using multivariate statistics (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Wang, X. (2013). Why students choose STEM majors. American Educational Research Journal, 50(5), 1081–1121.
Zeldin, A. L., Britner, S. L., & Pajares, F. (2008). A comparative study of the self-efficacy beliefs of successful men and women in mathematics, science, and technology careers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(9), 1036–1058.
Zeldin, A. L., & Pajares, F. (2000). Against the odds: Self-efficacy beliefs of women in mathematical, scientific, and technological careers. American Educational Research Journal, 37(1), 215–246.
Zimmerman (2000). Self-efficacy: An essential motive to learn. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), 82–91.
Published
2023-08-01
How to Cite
MUEHSLER, Hans Eric. Differences in Physics Self-Efficacy Among Personal and Course-wide Variables. European Journal of Physics Education, [S.l.], v. 14, n. 2, p. 17-32, aug. 2023. ISSN 1309-7202. Available at: <https://www.eu-journal.org/index.php/EJPE/article/view/355>. Date accessed: 19 may 2024.
Section
Articles