P905: Examining diverse students’ trajectories in chemistry self-efficacy within a college chemistry context

Author: Sachel M. Villafane, University of South Florida, USA

Co-Author: Jennifer E. Lewis, University of South Florida, USA

Date: 8/6/14

Time: 3:40 PM4:00 PM

Room: MAK A1161

Related Symposium: S66

Student retention in STEM, especially of underrepresented groups, is of great concern for educators and researchers. Many factors can influence students’ decision to continue into STEM-related careers. One of these factors is chemistry self-efficacy (CSE), which has been defined as a student’s beliefs about his or her own capability to perform a given chemistry task. These CSE beliefs can be influenced by students’ experiences in a course, and eventually, these beliefs could affect students’ decisions to continue into these careers. In this study, we examined students’ chemistry self-efficacy throughout a semester in a college preparatory chemistry course for science majors. Items from the Chemistry Attitudes and Experiences Questionnaire (CAEQ) were used to measure students’ CSE beliefs five times during the semester. To examine CSE trajectories by sex and race/ethnicity through the term, a multilevel modeling analysis with a growth curve model was performed. Results indicated that differences in expected CSE scores were noticeable at the beginning of the semester, but these differences were smaller by the end of the semester. Also, it was observed that Blacks and Hispanics males had a higher initial CSE scores and a negative trend as the term continued when compared with White males. In contrast, the CSE trend for Hispanic females was found to be positive. The findings in this study showed the importance of measuring CSE beliefs at multiple time points and for students from demographic groups underrepresented in STEM fields, being alert to the potential for different CSE trajectories.

P342: College students’ attitudes toward chemistry, conceptual knowledge and achievement: Structural equation model analysis

Author: Sachel M. Villafane, University of South Florida, USA

Co-Author: Xiaoying Xu, Jennifer E. Lewis, University of South Florida, USA

Date: 8/4/14

Time: 2:25 PM2:45 PM

Room: MAN 107

Related Symposium: S31

Students’ success in introductory college-level chemistry courses is important for them to continue to more advanced science courses and to progress toward science-related careers. Previous studies indicate that both cognitive and non-cognitive variables are relevant for student success. In this study, Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to predict students’ achievement in chemistry from both cognitive (math ability, prior conceptual knowledge in chemistry) and non-cognitive (attitude toward chemistry) measures. The purpose of this study is to investigate which of three alternative SEM models best represents the relationships among these variables and achievement in chemistry, and what proportion of variance in chemistry achievement can be explained. Results provide support for using a SEM model with all three predictors, with 69% of the variance in chemistry achievement explained. Both prior conceptual knowledge and attitude toward chemistry contribute a significant unique portion to the prediction of chemistry achievement when controlling for math ability. The results suggest that instructors can improve students’ achievement in chemistry not only by focusing on helping them to build conceptual knowledge, but also by fostering their positive attitude toward chemistry. This study also has implications for SEM researchers, both to further replicate the study in other contexts, and to add other potentially relevant predictors. Instrument developers may also use the modeling strategy as a springboard for optimizing assessment tools.