A study of factors, with an emphasis on the two-dimensional construct of grit, that affect student achievement in physics

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Title: A study of factors, with an emphasis on the two-dimensional construct of grit, that affect student achievement in physics
Author: Rytman, Kristiina
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Physics
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2018
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe201804208660
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Teaching of Physics
Fysiikan opettajan koulutus
Utbildning av fysiklärare
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to research what factors affect a student’s likelihood of successfully reaching his or her goal of becoming a scientist or, more specifically, a physicist. Academic achievement has long been associated with intelligence. This restricted view has not been comprehensive enough and has lacked the study of how noncognitive personality traits relate to success. In this study factors relating to skills and talent in physics, as well as to personality, will be analysed. Their relationship to a physics attitude assessment test will be investigated as well. Three questionnaires were used to gather data for this study: the Grit Survey, the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) and the Force Concept Inventory (FCI). Grit measures a person’s perseverance of effort and consistency of interest. It is a personality trait that is thought to predict success better than previous personality constructs have. CLASS measures expert-like thinking of students in a physics context. In this study CLASS is used as a predictor of academic achievement. FCI measures a student’s conceptual understanding of the force concept in Newtonian physics. In this study FCI is used as an evaluator of a student’s skills and talent in physics. The sample studied in this thesis consisted of 71 students attending a first-year physics course at the University of Helsinki. 43 of the participants were male and 28 female. Most of the students were students that had decided to major in physics. Results from correlation analysis between grit and CLASS show that no significant relationship was found between these two factors, with a correlation coefficient of only r=0.181 (p=0.131). FCI and CLASS did show a correlation of r=0.312. Correlations between the factors of grit and CLASS were also analysed in this study. Grit did not correlate with CLASS, a predictor of academic achievement. FCI, an evaluator of skill and talent in physics did correlate with CLASS. Grit as a whole does not seem to relate to academic achievement. But its dimension of effort does. Grit effort correlated with CLASS with a correlation coefficient of r=0.241 (p=0.043). The two dimensions of grit seem to measure different things and it is important to be able to analyse them separately.

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