Attitude Counts: Self-Concept and Success in General Chemistry


Chemistry and Biochemistry

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General chem. is a required first step for students who wish to pursue a career in science or health professions. The course also traditionally features low rates of student success and as a result serves as a gateway limiting access to science fields. This study seeks to better understand factors that are related to student success in general chem. by focusing on the affective domain, in this case students' self-concept, or self-evaluation of ability as it pertains to a specific field of study. First, a profile of students' self-concept in the general chem. setting is developed. Next, the relationship between self-concept and success in the course is investigated, including examg. the role of self-concept after taking into account a cognitive measure (SAT scores). The results of this study indicate that 18.7% of the sample belongs to the group identified as low self-concept, the only group featuring a markedly low chem. self-concept. This percent indicates that a sizable, but not overwhelming, proportion of general chem. students in the sample may be hindered by subject-specific low self-concept. In addn., the groups of self- concept identified by the cluster anal. had wide discrepancies in retention rates (course completion) and in performance on an ACS exam.