Trends in level 1 chemistry students’ laboratory anxiety and self-efficacy

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


BACKGROUNDAt the University of Western Australia there are three chemistry units offered at level 1. Of these, two (CHEM1001 and CHEM1002) are offered to students who have completed year 12 chemistry. The third unit is for students who have not completed year 12 chemistry (CHEM1003). In semester 1 of 2017 data was collected to probe current anxiety levels. It is known that anxiety and self-efficacy are correlated [1], therefore, students were also asked about their confidence in their laboratory skills.AIMSThe primary aim of this research is to provide a snapshot of the current levels of chemistry laboratory anxiety and self-efficacy of level 1 chemistry students. Additional aims include:•Confirming the correlation between anxiety and self-efficacy•Identifying and commenting on the differences between students with different chemistry backgrounds•Analyzing trends in the factors which contribute to chemistry laboratory anxietyDESIGN AND METHODSA voluntary, online survey was distributed to the students at the beginning (Week 4) and end (Week 12) of the first semester of 2017 (with n = 271, 33% of the cohort and n = 195, 24% of the cohort respectively). This corresponds to the weeks that students had their first and last labs of the semester. The survey was based on Bowen’s 1999 Chemistry Laboratory Anxiety Index [2] (CLAI), which had been widely used in the existing literature [1, 3]. Modifications were made to the survey to probe the impact of additional factors (demonstrators, interpreting data and being assessed). Furthermore, for each factor relating to anxiety students were asked about their self-efficacy. Results were collected on the website Qualtrics and data analysis was completed in excel using linear regression to analyze the correlation between anxiety and self-efficacy across contributing factors. RESULTSAs expected, areas in which anxiety was high self-efficacy was low. There were similarities between CHEM1001 and CHEM1002, where: social factors were the lowest in anxiety and highest in self-efficacy, practical skills were ranked in the middle and tasks relating to cognitive load were higher in anxiety and lower in self-efficacy. The absolute highest-ranking factor for anxiety was time and being able to complete the work in the time given was ranked lowest in self-efficacy. Both cognitive load and the time needed to complete the laboratories are related to students’ experience and mastery.For students in CHEM1003 time was less of an issue and the areas students had the highest anxiety and lowest self-efficacy in were interpreting data and being assessed which, given that they also had lower self-efficacy in these areas, may be due to a lack of experience in chemistry. Comparing the data from the beginning and end of semester showed that generally anxiety decreased, the strength of the relationship between anxiety and self-efficacy also weakened. This could be due to a shift in priorities at the end of the semester, in which results may become more pressing and the perceived impact on students’ grades may be a greater cause of their anxiety than just lower self-efficacy.  CONCLUSIONSGiven the relationship between anxiety and self-efficacy, interventions to reduce chemistry laboratory anxiety should aim to increase self-efficacy. Additionally, knowing which factors contribute most to students’ anxiety can also inform the design of curriculum for efficient laboratory learning.
REFERENCES[1] Kurbanoglu, N. I., & Akim, A. (2010). The relationships between university students’ chemistry laboratory anxiety, attitudes, and self-efficacy beliefs. Australian Journal of Teacher Educ, 35(8), 4.[2] Bowen, C. W. (1999). Development and score validation of a chemistry laboratory anxiety instrument (CLAI) for college chemistry students. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 59(1), 171-185.[3] Galloway, K. R., & Bretz, S. L. (2015). Development of an assessment tool to measure students’ meaningful learning in the undergraduate chemistry laboratory. Journal of Chemical Education, 92(7), 1149-1158.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventAustralian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education: Science And Mathematics Teaching And Learning For The 21st Century - Monash University, Clayton, Australia
Duration: 27 Sep 201729 Sep 2017
Conference number: 23rd


ConferenceAustralian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education
Abbreviated titleACSME 2018
Internet address


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