High School Students' Physics Epistemological Beliefs
ABSTRACT AUDREY D. SMELTZER-SCHWAB HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS’ PHYSICS EPISTEMOLOGICAL BELIEFS Under the direction of KAREN W. SWANSON, Ed.D. This study was conducted to examine the extent to which high school students’ physics epistemological beliefs varied from the beginning of the semester where they had no physics instruction and after 11 weeks of high school physics instruction. A correlational study was conducted in the fall of 2017 at an urban high school in southeastern Pennsylvania. Fifty-two students completed the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) before any physics instruction. The CLASS was also completed by the same students after 11 weeks of high school physics instruction. Scores were evaluated on a 1 to 5 scale, ranking students’ physics epistemological beliefs on a novice-to-expert continuum. Data was analyzed with a repeated measures ANOVA. A statistical significance was found between the overall pretest and posttest scores. All of the mean scores for the posttests were higher than the pretests, showing that physics epistemological beliefs became more expert-like with more physics instruction. Overall, none of the controlling factors were influential. In terms of the controlling variables, gender, grade level, and GPA had no statistical significance on any category of the CLASS. Ethnicity was statistically significant in the Personal Interest category and socioeconomic status statistically impacted the Problem Solving Sophistication category. Small to medium effect sizes were observed throughout the study. Results from this study demonstrated that high school students’ physics epistemological beliefs can become more expert-like in high school after traditional physics instruction. However, further study on high school students’ physics epistemological beliefs is necessary.
Smeltzer-Schwab, Audrey D.