High School Students’ Conceptions of Science Laboratory Learning, Perceptions of the Science Laboratory Environment, and Academic Self-Efficacy in Science Learning

  • Min-Hsien LeeEmail author
  • Jyh-Chong Liang
  • Ying-Tien Wu
  • Guo-Li Chiou
  • Chung-Yuan Hsu
  • Chia-Yu Wang
  • Jing-Wen Lin
  • Chin-Chung Tsai


In the field of science education, laboratory learning environment has gained renewed interest in the recent decade. This study aimed to investigate the relationships among students’ conceptions of science laboratory learning, perceptions of the science laboratory learning environment, and their academic self-efficacy in science learning by adopting the structural equation modeling (SEM) technique. A total of 513 senior high school students (262 females) in Taiwan were invited to participate in this survey study. Three instruments were adapted and implemented to investigate the aim of the study (i.e. the conceptions of science laboratory learning questionnaire, the science laboratory environment inventory, and the academic self-efficacy in science learning questionnaire). The results indicated that the students’ conceptions of science laboratory learning made a significant contribution to their perceptions of the science laboratory environment, which consequently fostered their science learning self-efficacy. More specifically, students with conceptions of science laboratory learning as reviewing their prior learning profiles tended to highlight the “student cohesiveness,” “integration,” and “material environment” aspects of the laboratory environment. Moreover, students who held personal ideas of science laboratory learning as acquiring manipulative skills tended to perceive actual science laboratory environments as much more open-ended and to attain advanced academic science learning self-efficacy. In addition, those students who viewed laboratory learning as achieving in-depth understanding, and who perceived that laboratory activities are guided by clear rules, were prone to express a stronger sense of academic self-efficacy. Based on the results, practical implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.


Academic self-efficacy Conceptions of science laboratory learning High school Science laboratory learning environment 



This work was financially supported by the “Institute for Research Excellence in Learning Sciences” of the National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) from The Featured Areas Research Center Program within the framework of the Higher Education Sprout Project by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan and by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan, under the following grant numbers: 106-2628-S-003-002-MY3, 102-2511-S-003-065-MY5.


  1. Aldridge, J. M., Fraser, B. J., Taylor, P. C., & Chen, C.-C. (2000). Constructivist classroom learning environments in a cross-national study in Taiwan and Australia. International Journal of Science Education, 22, 37–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alt, D. (2015). Assessing the contribution of a constructivist learning environment to academic self-efficacy in higher education. Learning Environment Research, 18, 47–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andrew, S. (1998). Self-efficacy as a predictor of academic performance in science. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27, 596–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  5. Bentler, P. M. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 238–246.Google Scholar
  6. Biggs, J. (1993). From theory to practice: A cognitive systems approach. Higher Education Research and Development, 12, 73–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blanchard, M. R., Southerland, S. A., Osborne, J. W., Sampson, V. D., Annetta, L. A., & Granger, E. M. (2010). Is inquiry possible in light of accountability? A quantitative comparison of the relative effectiveness of guided inquiry and verification laboratory instruction. Science Education, 94, 577–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bong, M. (2001). Between- and within-domain relations of academic motivation among middle and high school students: Self-efficacy, task-value, and achievement goals. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 23–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen, S., Huang, C.-C., & Chou, T.-L. (2016). The effect of metacognitive scaffolds on low achievers’ laboratory learning. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 14, 281–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chiou, G.-L., Lee, M.-H., & Tsai, C.-C. (2013). High school students’ approaches to learning physics with relationships to epistemic views on physics and conceptions of learning physics. Research in Science & Technological Education, 31, 1–15.Google Scholar
  11. Chiu, Y.-L., Lin, T.-J., & Tsai, C.-C. (2016). The conceptions of learning science by laboratory among university science-major students: Qualitative and quantitative analyses. Research in Science & Technological Education, 34, 359–377.Google Scholar
  12. Dart, B. C., Burnett, P. C., Purdie, N., Boulton-Lewis, G., Campbell, J., & Smith, D. (2000). Students’ conceptions of learning, the classroom environment, and approaches to learning. The Journal of Educational Research, 93, 262–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ferla, J., Valcke, M., & Schuyten, G. (2008). Relationships between student cognitions and their effects on study strategies. Learning and Individual Differences, 18, 271–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fraser, B. J., & Lee, S. S. U. (2009). Science laboratory classroom environments in Korea. Learning Environments Research, 12, 67–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fraser, B. J., McRobbie, C. J., & Giddings, G. J. (1993). Development and cross-national validation of a laboratory classroom environment instrument for senior high school science. Science Education, 77, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grabau, L. J., & Ma, X. (2017). Science engagement and science achievement in the context of science instruction: A multilevel analysis of U. S. students and schools. International Journal of Science Education, 39, 1045–1068.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Henderson, D., Fisher, D., & Fraser, B. (2000). Interpersonal behavior, laboratory learning environments, and student outcomes in senior biology classes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37, 26–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hofstein, A., & Lunetta, V. N. (2004). The laboratory in science education: Foundation for the 21st century. Science Education, 88, 28–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hu, L.-T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indices in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55.Google Scholar
  20. Joo, Y. J., Bong, M., & Choi, H.-J. (2000). Self-efficacy for self-regulated learning, academic self-efficacy, and Internet self-efficacy in Web-based instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48, 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kline, R. B. (1998). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  22. Lee, M.-H., Johanson, R. E., & Tsai, C.-C. (2008). Exploring Taiwanese high school students’ conceptions of and approaches to learning science through a structural equation modeling analysis. Science Education, 92, 191–220.Google Scholar
  23. Lee, M.-H., Chang, C.-Y., & Tsai, C.-C. (2009). Exploring Taiwanese high school students’ perceptions of and preferences for teacher authority in the earth science classroom with relation to their attitudes and achievement. International Journal of Science Education, 31, 1811–1830.Google Scholar
  24. Lee, M.-H., Lin, T.-J., & Tsai, C.-C. (2013). Proving or improving science learning? Understanding high school students’ conceptions of science assessment in Taiwan. Science Education, 97, 244–270.Google Scholar
  25. Lin, Y.-H., Liang, J.-C., & Tsai, C.-C. (2012). The effects of different forms of physiology instruction on the development of students’ conceptions of and approaches to science learning. Advances in Physiology Education, 36, 42–47.Google Scholar
  26. Lin, T.-J., & Tsai, C.-C. (2013). An investigation of Taiwanese high school students’ science learning self-efficacy in relation to their conceptions of learning science. Research in Science & Technological Education, 31, 308–323.Google Scholar
  27. Lorsbach, A., & Jinks, J. (1999). Self-efficacy theory and learning environment research. Learning Environments Research, 2, 157–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. MacCallum, R. C., Browne, M. W., & Sugawara, H. M. (1996). Power analysis and determination of sample size for covariance structure modeling. Psychological Methods, 1, 130–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Marton, F. (1981). Phenomenography—describing conceptions of the world around us. Instructional Science, 10, 177–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Marton, F., Dall’Alba, G., & Beaty, E. (1993). Conceptions of learning. International Journal of Educational Research, 19, 277–299.Google Scholar
  31. Moos, R. H. (1974). The Social Climate Scales: an overview. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting. Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  32. Pajares, F., & Miller, M. D. (1994). Role of self-efficacy and self-concept beliefs in mathematical problem solving: A path analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, 193–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pajares, F., & Schunk, D. H. (2001). Self-beliefs and school success: Self-efficacy, self-concept, and school achievement. In R. Riding & S. Rayner (Eds.), Self-perception (pp. 239–266). London: Ablex Publishing.Google Scholar
  34. Peterson, E. R., Brown, G. T. L., & Irving, S. E. (2010). Secondary school students’ conceptions of learning and their relationship to achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 20, 167–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pintrich, P. R., Smith, D. A. F., Garcia, T., & McKeachie, W. J. (1993). Reliability and predictive validity of the motivated strategies for learning questionnaire (MSLQ). Educational and Psychological Measurement, 53, 801–813.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Saklofske, D. H., & Greenspoon, P. J. (2000). Confirmatory factor analysis of the MSLSS: A reply to Shevlin et al. Personality and Individual Difference, 28, 187–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shen, K.-M., Lee, M.-H., Tsai, C.-C., & Chang, C.-Y. (2016). Undergraduate students’ earth science learning: relationships among conceptions, approaches, and learning self-efficacy in Taiwan. International Journal of Science Education, 38, 1527–1547.Google Scholar
  38. Tsai, C.-C. (2003). Taiwanese science students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the laboratory learning environments: Exploring epistemological gaps. International Journal of Science Education, 25, 847–860.Google Scholar
  39. Tsai, C.-C. (2004). Conceptions of learning science among high school students in Taiwan: aphenomenographic analysis. International Journal of Science Education, 26, 1733–1750.Google Scholar
  40. Tsai, C.-C., Ho, H. N., Liang, J.-C., & Lin, H.-M. (2011). Scientific epistemic beliefs, conceptions of learning science and self-efficacy of learning science among high school students. Learning and Instruction, 21, 757–769Google Scholar
  41. Wang, C.-Y., Wu, H-K, Lee, S. W.-Y., Hwang, F.-K., Chang, H.-Y., Wu, Y.-T., Chiou, G.-L., Chen, S., Liang, J.-C., Lin, J.-W., Lo, H.-C., & Tsai, C.-C. (2014). A review of research on technology-assisted school science laboratories. Educational Technology & Society, 17, 307–320.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program of Learning SciencesNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipei CityTaiwan
  2. 2.Institute for Research Excellence in Learning SciencesNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Graduate Institute of Network Learning TechnologyNational Central UniversityTaoyuanTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of Child CareNational Pingtung University of Science and TechnologyPingtungTaiwan
  5. 5.Graduate Institute of Digital Learning and EducationNational Taiwan University of Science and TechnologyTaipeiTaiwan
  6. 6.Department of Science EducationNational Taipei University of EducationTaipei CityTaiwan

Personalised recommendations