Sources of Self-Efficacy in Science Courses - Physics (SOSEC-P)

Developed by Heidi Fencl and Karen Scheel

Purpose To assess students’ beliefs that they can succeed in their physics course.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice, Agree/disagree
Duration 20 min
Focus Beliefs / Attitudes (self-efficacy)
Level Intro college

Sample statements from the SOSEC-P:

I am capable of receiving good grades on my assignments in this class.

      1 Strongly disagree    2 Disagree    3 Neutral    4 Agree    5 Strongly agree

Listening to the instructor and other students in question-and-answer sessions makes me think that I cannot understand physics.

      1 Strongly disagree    2 Disagree    3 Neutral    4 Agree    5 Strongly agree

I get positive feedback about my ability to recall physics ideas. 

      1 Strongly disagree    2 Disagree    3 Neutral    4 Agree    5 Strongly agree


SOSEC-P Implementation Guide

Everything you need to know about implementing the SOSEC-P in your class.

H. Fencl and K. Scheel, Pedagogical approaches, contextual variables, and the development of student self-efficacy in undergraduate physics courses, 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

A portion of the Likert-scale questions on the SOSEC were taken from existing math and general academic surveys of self-efficacy. Additional new questions were written based on the developers experience with undergraduate science education. The SOSEC was given to over 600 undergraduates, and appropriate analysis of validity and reliability was conducted. A confirmatory factor analysis was performed to ensure the four categories of questions were aligned with the way students thought about the questions. The SOSEC has been given to over 1100 students at several universities and the results published in three peer-reviewed publications.


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Download the SOSEC-P answer key.

Typical Results

Typical scores on the SOSEC-P from Sawtelle, Brewe and Kramer, 2010.

Typical Results from Fencl and Scheel, 2004:
Multiple regression analyses, controlling for the influence of ACT score and student sex, were conducted to determine which significantly related teaching strategies uniquely predicted self- efficacy. Collaborative learning, then demonstration, question & answer, and conceptual problem assignments had the greatest impact on physics self-efficacy. Both student-student climate and, especially, instructor-student climate were also significantly correlated to all sources of self-efficacy.

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The latest version of the SOSEC-P, released in 2004, is version 1. The SOSEC has been adapted for several disciplines including physics and chemistry.