Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey for Experimental Physics (E-CLASS)

Developed by Ben Zwickl and Heather Lewandowski

Purpose To assess students' perceptions of the gap between classroom laboratory instruction and professional research.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice, Agree/disagree
Duration 15 min
Focus Beliefs / Attitudes (affect, confidence, math-physics-data connection, physics community, uncertainty, troubleshooting, argumentation, experimental design, modeling)
Level Upper-level, Intermediate, Intro college

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Sample question from the E-CLASS:


E-CLASS Implementation Guide

Everything you need to know about implementing the E-CLASS in your class.

B. Zwickl, N. Finkelstein, and H. Lewandowski, Development and Validation of the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey for Experimental Physics, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2012, Philadelphia, PA, 2012.
External Resources

The Colorado Science Education Initiative has developed a wide range of curricular materials for teaching advanced lab, of which the E-CLASS is only one. Please visit the website ( for other materials such as group activities, clicker questions, and homework.

Gold Star Validation
This is the highest level of research validation, corresponding to all seven 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

The Likert-scale questions on the ECLASS were developed based on consensus learning goals defined by faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder for their lab curriculum. The questions were modeled after questions on the CLASS and based on common challenges instructors observed students having in lab courses. The ECLASS was tested in over 40 student interviews with physics majors, non-majors and introductory physics students to ensure questions were being interpreted in the way intended. Further, over 20 experts reviewed the ECLASS and indicated their view of the expert-like response for each question. Students in upper-division physics labs gave a larger fraction of expert-like responses than students in algebra-based physics labs in both the classroom context and in the context of professional research. The ECLASS was given to over 5500 first year, intermediate and upper-division students (about 3500 matched pre and post) at over 45 institutions and appropriate statistical analyses of reliability and discrimination were performed. Reasonable results were found. The ECLASS has been given to over 5500 students at over 45 institutions with results published in 6 peer-reviewed papers.


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Typical Results

Typical Results from Wilcox and Lewandowski 2015 scored on a 3-point scale where a favorable response = +1, a neutral response = 0, and an unfavorable response = -1.

Typical Results from Holmes, Ives and Bonn, 2014 showing average fraction of favorable (expert-like)
responses (0 = unfavorable response or neutral response, 1 = favorable response). The figure below represents a significant drop in students’ personal beliefs in the traditional lab (n=453) and a neutral shift in Structured Quantitative Inquiry Labs (SQILab) students’ personal beliefs (n=127), where the SQILab refocus the scope of the learning outcomes to promote mastery only on data handling, measurement, and uncertainty concepts and experimentation skills.

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The latest version of the E-CLASS, released in 2013, is version 2. Version 1 was released in 2012, and then changes were made to the phrasing of the prompts and in response to interviews with students.