Attitude to the study of chemistry and its relationship with achievement in an introductory undergraduate course

Stephen J Brown, Sue White, Bibhya Sharma, Lara Wakeling, Mani Naiker, Shaneel Chandra, Romila Gopalan, Veena Bilimoria


A positive attitude to a subject may be congruent with higher achievement; however, limited evidence supports this for students in undergraduate chemistry – this may result from difficulties in quantifying attitude. Therefore, in this study, the Attitude to the Study of Chemistry Inventory (ASCI) – a validated instrument to quantify attitude, was used to measure attitude to chemistry in 125 undergraduates studying an introductory course in chemistry, as part of a BSc Chemistry major. The 13 week course contained 4 summative assessments: practical (PRAC), tutorial (TUT), on-line web-based learning (OWL), and a final exam (FE). Sub-scales within ASCI which quantify the ‘affective’ and ‘cognitive’ components of attitude were determined. Firstly, for all 125 students, weak correlations (r) between the affective scale score and FE (r=0.275, P<0.01) and TOTAL (r=0.228, P<0.05), were recorded. Secondly, a low achieving (LA, n=48) and a high achieving (HA, n=77) group were identified using a cluster analysis procedure. The HA group scored higher than the LA group in PRAC, OWL, FE and TOTAL (all P<0.001), but the clusters were not different in their scores for either the affective or the cognitive components of attitude. There was no correlation between attitude and achievement in the HA group, and only one weak positive correlation (0.409), between the affective score and achievement in the LA group. We suggest that although a positive attitude may be an important part of the undergraduate experience, it is at best only weakly associated with achievement in undergraduate chemistry.


attitude; chemistry education research; testing and assessment

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