Understanding the development of interest and self-efficacy in active-learning undergraduate physics courses


Modeling Instruction (MI), an active-learning introductory physics curriculum, has been shown to improve student academic success. Peer-to-peer interactions play a salient role in the MI classroom. Their impact on student interest and self-efficacy – preeminent constructs of various career theories – has not been thoroughly explored. Our examination of three undergraduate MI courses (N = 221) revealed a decrease in students’ physics self- efficacy, physics interest, and general science interest. We found a positive link from physics interest to self-efficacy, and a negative relationship between science interest and self-efficacy. We tested structural equation models confirming that student interactions make positive contributions to self-efficacy. This study frames students’ classroom interactions within broader career theory frameworks and suggests nuanced considerations regarding interest and self-efficacy constructs in the context of undergraduate active-learning science courses.

International Journal of Science Education