, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 99-111,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 07 Dec 2006

The Impact of Student Self-efficacy on Scientific Inquiry Skills: An Exploratory Investigation in River City, a Multi-user Virtual Environment

Abstract

This exploratory study investigated data-gathering behaviors exhibited by 100 seventh-grade students as they participated in a scientific inquiry-based curriculum project delivered by a multi-user virtual environment (MUVE). This research examined the relationship between students’ self-efficacy on entry into the authentic scientific activity and the longitudinal data-gathering behaviors they employed while engaged in that process. Three waves of student behavior data were gathered from a server-side database that recorded all student activity in the MUVE; these data were analyzed using individual growth modeling. The study found that self-efficacy correlated with the number of data-gathering behaviors in which students initially engaged, with high self-efficacy students engaging in more data gathering than students with low self-efficacy. Also, the impact of student self-efficacy on rate of change in data gathering behavior differed by gender. However, by the end of their time in the MUVE, initial student self-efficacy no longer correlated with data gathering behaviors. In addition, students’ level of self-efficacy did not affect how many different sources from which they chose to gather data. These results suggest that embedding science inquiry curricula in novel platforms like a MUVE might act as a catalyst for change in students’ self-efficacy and learning processes.