Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Eric Brewe

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Zahra Hazari

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Haiying Long

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Laird Kramer

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


self-efficacy, physics, education, career, interest, identity, science, STEM, social network analysis, SNA

Date of Defense



This collected papers dissertation explores students’ academic interactions in an active learning, introductory physics settings as they relate to the development of physics self-efficacy and interest. The motivation for this work extends from the national call to increase participation of students in the pursuit of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. Self-efficacy and interest are factors that play prominent roles in popular, evidence-based, career theories, including the Social cognitive career theory (SCCT) and the identity framework. Understanding how these constructs develop in light of the most pervasive characteristic of the active learning introductory physics classroom (i.e., peer-to-peer interactions) has implications on how students learn in a variety of introductory STEM classrooms and settings structured after constructivist and sociocultural learning theories.

I collected data related to students’ in-class interactions using the tools of social network analysis (SNA). Social network analysis has recently been shown to be an effective and useful way to examine the structure of student relationships that develop in and out of STEM classrooms. This set of studies furthers the implementation of SNA as a tool to examine self-efficacy and interest formation in the active learning physics classroom. Here I represent a variety of statistical applications of SNA, including bootstrapped linear regression (Chapter 2), structural equation modeling (Chapter 3), and hierarchical linear modeling for longitudinal analyses (Chapter 4).

Self-efficacy data were collected using the Sources of Self-Efficacy for Science Courses – Physics survey (SOSESC-P), and interest data were collected using the physics identity survey. Data for these studies came from the Modeling Instruction sections of Introductory Physics with Calculus offered at Florida International University in the fall of 2014 and 2015. Analyses support the idea that students’ perceptions of one another impact the development of their social network centrality, which in turn affects their self-efficacy building experiences and their overall self-efficacy. It was shown that unlike career theories that emphasize causal relationships between the development of self-efficacy and the subsequent growth of student interest, in this context student interest takes precedence before the development of student self-efficacy. This outcome also has various implications for career theories.






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