Date of Degree

2-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Educational Psychology

Advisor

Bruce Homer

Committee Members

Mario Antonio Kelly

David Rindskopf

Catherine Milne

Helen Johnson

Subject Categories

Educational Psychology

Keywords

self-efficacy, sources of self-efficacy, chemistry education, educational technology, computer-based simulation

Abstract

Self-efficacy (SE) is a measure of belief in a person’s own ability to complete a task and reach a certain goal (Bandura, 2006). It is a significant area in the field of educational psychology because it can be used to predict performance in the area being measured. Chemistry represents a challenging field of study although the skills learned from it are necessary to move forward in STEM (Luzzo, Hasper, Albert, Bibby, Martinelli, 1999). It is not uncommon for students to enter this course with feelings of low SE. Increasing SE could result in improved educational outcomes and have a long- term impact for America’s economic stability.

One aim of the study was to construct a new self-efficacy scale specific to ideal gas laws since such a scale does not exist in the field. Many scales used to assess self- efficacy beliefs are too broad, and aren’t as useful in informing us about feelings of self- efficacy in a particular domain (Bandura, 2006). Self-efficacy scales were validated using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis.

Another goal was to assess whether a computer-based simulation in ideal gas laws could increase feelings of SE. Simulations often provide learners with opportunities to have control over their environment in a safe space while practicing their skills. By providing opportunities for mastery, students could potentially build upon their SE of the area being investigated.

Another area explored involved assessing self-efficacy beliefs of women and people of various racial and ethnic groups in the sciences. This was deemed an important area of investigation since these groups of individuals are known to opt out of sciences. We examined both sources of science self-efficacy beliefs and ideal gas laws self- efficacy beliefs to assess whether any differences existed between groups. We additionally assessed whether the order in which the ideal gas laws posttest was delivered influenced the feelings of self-efficacy that individuals had. Based on multiple regression analysis, several signification findings emerged. Compared to men, women had lower ideal gas laws self-efficacy beliefs both before and after the intervention. The order that the ideal gas laws chemistry posttest was delivered impacted the way that participants perceived their ability in chemistry. There were no differences in chemistry knowledge performance for any groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the sciences.

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