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Abstract Title: A Major- and Gender-Dependent Self-Confidence Decline in CLASS Data from MIT Introductory Physics
Abstract: It has been observed in the literature that student self-confidence about mathematical ability tends to be reduced by attending a selective secondary school.  This has been termed the "Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect".  We have examined CLASS data from the mainstream introductory physics course at MIT and found evidence of an analogous decline in confidence about physics problem solving ability, even among students receiving an A or B in the course.  This decline is apparently correlated with a student's subsequent selection of major.  Students who eventually select a major closely related to physics do not (on average) exhibit a significant decline in self-confidence during the freshman course, regardless of gender.  Students whose major has no close relationship to physics do (on average) exhibit a significant decline in confidence regardless of gender.  Students whose major is intermediate display a gender-dependent evolution of confidence, with only female students (on average) exhibiting a significant decline.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Andrew Pawl
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
1 University Plaza
Platteville, WI 53818
and Co-Presenter(s)
David E. Pritchard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology