American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Apply for this position
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Educational Research. 2016, 4(9), 652-657
DOI: 10.12691/education-4-9-1
Open AccessArticle

Assessing Academic Self-Efficacy, Knowledge, and Attitudes in Undergraduate Physiology Students

Andrew D. Woolcock1, , Kate E. Creevy2, Amanda E. Coleman2, James N. Moore3 and Scott A. Brown4

1Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

2Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

3Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

4Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Pub. Date: June 12, 2016

Cite this paper:
Andrew D. Woolcock, Kate E. Creevy, Amanda E. Coleman, James N. Moore and Scott A. Brown. Assessing Academic Self-Efficacy, Knowledge, and Attitudes in Undergraduate Physiology Students. American Journal of Educational Research. 2016; 4(9):652-657. doi: 10.12691/education-4-9-1


Academic self-efficacy affects the success of students in the sciences. Our goals were to develop an instrument to assess the self-efficacy and attitudes toward science of students in an undergraduate physiology course. We hypothesized 1) that our instrument would demonstrate that students taking this course would exhibit greater self-efficacy and more positive attitudes toward science than students in a non-science undergraduate course, and 2) that the physiology students' self-efficacy and attitudes would improve after completing the course. A 25-question survey instrument was developed with items investigating demographic information, self-efficacy, content knowledge, confidence, and attitudes regarding science. Students in either an undergraduate physiology course (Group P) or a history course (Group H) completed the survey. Forty-eight students in Group P completed both PRE- and POST-class surveys, while 50 students in Group H completed the pre-class survey. The academic self-efficacy of Group P as assessed by the PRE-survey was significantly higher than Group H (p=0.0003). Interestingly, there was no significant difference between groups in content knowledge in the PRE-survey. The self-efficacy of Group P was significantly higher as assessed by the POST-survey, when compared to the PRE-survey (p<0.0001) coincident with an improvement (p<0.001) in content knowledge for Group P in the POST-survey. This study established a survey instrument with utility in assessing self-efficacy, attitudes, and content knowledge. Our approach has applicability to studies designed to determine the impact of instructional variables on academic self-efficacy, attitudes, and confidence of students in the sciences.

self-efficacy physiology cardiovascular

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.
[2]  Zimmerman, B.J. (2000). Self-efficacy: An essential motive to learn. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 82-91.
[3]  Multon, K.D., Brown, S.D., & Lent, R.W. (1991). Relation of self-efficacy beliefs to academic outcomes: A meta-analytic investigation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 38, 30-38.
[4]  Zimmerman, B.J., Bandura, A., & Martinez-Pons, M. (1992). Self-motivation for academic achievement: The role of self-efficacy beliefs and personal goal setting. American Educational Research Journal, 29(663-676).
[5]  Grauer, G. F., Forrester, S. D., Shuman, C., & Sanderson, M. W. (2008). Comparison of student performance after lecture-based and case-based/problem-based teaching in a large group. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 35(2), 310-317.
[6]  Owston, R.D. (1997). The World Wide Web: A technology to enhance teaching and learning? Educational Researcher, 26(2), 27-33.
[7]  Kaveevivitchai, C., Chuengkriankrai, B., Luecha, Y., Thanooruk, R., Panijpan, B., & Ruenwongsa, P. (2009). Enhancing nursing students' skills in vital signs assessment by using multimedia computer-assisted learning with integrated content of anatomy and physiology. Nurse Education Today, 29(1), 65-72.
[8]  Lewis, M. J. (2003). Computer-assisted learning for teaching anatomy and physiology in subjects allied to medicine. Medical Teacher, 25(2), 204-206.
[9]  Richardson, D. (1997). Student perceptions and learning outcomes of computer-assisted versus traditional instruction in physiology. American Journal of Physiology, 273(6 Pt 3), S55-58.
[10]  Taradi, S. K., Taradi, M., Radic, K., & Pokrajac, N. (2005). Blending problem-based learning with Web technology positively impacts student learning outcomes in acid-base physiology. Adv Physiol Educ, 29(1), 35-39.
[11]  Bong, M., & Clark, R.E. (1999). Comparison between self-concept and self-efficacy in academic motivation research. Educational Psychologist, 34(3), 139-153.
[12]  Chemers, M.M., Hu, L., & Garcia, B.F. (2001). Academic self-efficacy and first year college student performance and adjustment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(1), 55-64.
[13]  Diseth, Å. (2011). Self-efficacy, goal orientations and learning strategies as mediators between preceding and subsequent academic achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(2), 191-195.
[14]  Komarraju, M., & Dial, C. (2014). Academic identity, self-efficacy, and self-esteem predict self-determined motivation and goals. Learning and Individual Differences, 32, 1-8.
[15]  Pintrich, P.R., & DeGroot, E.V. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 33-40.
[16]  Liang, C., & Chang, C. (2014). Predicting scientific imagination from the joint influences of intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, agreeableness, and extraversion. Learning and Individual Differences, 31, 36-42.
[17]  Vollmer, F. (1984). Expectancy and academic achievement. Motivation and Emotion, 8, 67-76.
[18]  Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum Press.
[19]  Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 54-67.
[20]  Caprara, G.V., Fida, R., Vecchione, M., Del Bove, G., Vecchio, G.M., Barbaranelli, C., & Bandura, A. (2008). Longitudinal analysis of the role of perceived self-efficacy for self-regulated learning in academic continuance and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(3), 525-534.
[21]  Di Giunta, L., Alessandri, G., Gerbino, M., Luengo Kanacri, P., Zuffiano, A., & Caprara, G.V.. (2013). The determinants of scholastic achievement: The contribution of personality traits, self-esteem, and academic self-efficacy. Learning and Individual Differences, 27, 102-108.
[22]  Zhu, Y., Chen, L., Chen, H., & Chern, C. (2011). How does Internet information seeking help academic performance? – The moderating and mediating roles of academic self-efficacy. Computers & Education, 57(4), 2476-2484.
[23]  Pintrich, P.R. (2004). A conceptual framework for assessing motivation and selfregulated learning in college students. Educational Psychology Review, 16, 385-407.