UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Investigating factors underlying undergraduate physics students’ attitudes and beliefs about physics through a revalidation of CLASS MacDonald, Alexandra Leigh


The Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) has been widely used to measure students’ attitudes and beliefs about learning physics. This usage is paired with the assumption that the eight factors determined by the developers underlie students’ attitudes and beliefs about physics in all populations. Confirmatory factor analysis did not support the existence of these eight factors amongst students enrolled in introductory physics courses at a large research university in Western Canada. Thus, to understand the factors that underlie students’ attitudes and beliefs about physics as conveyed by the CLASS data collected at the university, a revalidation procedure was undertaken. The investigation of underlying factors included performing and interpreting the results of exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and reliability tests. Exploratory analysis of the survey data suggested five factors that underlie students’ responses to the survey items in an introductory physics course for engineering students. Analysis of data from the introductory physics courses for engineering students and a calculus-based physics courses for science students confirmed the existence of three of the five emergent factors. These three factors have been labelled ‘Awareness of Real World Connections’, ‘Self-Efficacy’, and ‘Constructive Connectivity’. This emergent model indicates strong patterns in students’ attitudes and beliefs about physics from the beginning of their undergraduate careers. Future research is needed to support the existence of these revalidated factors and the robustness of this model in multiple populations. The potential for a tool that can provide insight into students’ attitudes about physics, and how these attitudes are shaped, to shape undergraduate physics learning are significant.

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