Self-Efficacy in Physics (SEP)

Developed by Kimberly A. Shaw

Purpose To examine the relationship between physics self-efficacy and student performance in introductory physics classrooms.
Format Agree/disagree
Duration 5 min
Focus Beliefs / Attitudes (self-efficacy)
Level Intro college

I can solve for the variable r in the expression F = Gm1m2/r2

Strongly Disagree  Disagree   Neutral   Agree   Strongly Agree   

K. Shaw, The Development of a Physics Self-Efficacy Instrument for Use in the Introductory Classroom, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2003, Madison, WI, 2003.
Bronze Validation
This is the third highest level of research validation, corresponding to at least 3 of the validation categories below.

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • Student thinking

Studied Using:

  • Student interviews
  • Expert review
  • Appropriate statistical analysis

Research Conducted:

  • At multiple institutions
  • By multiple research groups
  • Peer-reviewed publication

Based on a literature review, the developers created an 8 question pilot version of the SEP where the questions were modeled after self-efficacy questions from surveys in other disciplines. The questions underwent expert review and were revised. The SEP was tested with over 500 students, and the results are published in one peer-reviewed paper. 


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Typical Results

Typical scores on the SEP from Shaw 2004 for males and females in a conceptual physics course (Table 2), two terms of college physics courses (Table 3) and a calculus-based second semester physics course (Table 4). In conceptual physics, male students had a higher mean score than female students. In college physics and calculus-based physics, there is no significant difference in responses between male and female students.

SEP Scores Table 1

SEP Scores Table 2

SEP Scores Table 3

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The latest version of the SEP, released in 2004, is the pilot version (version P).