First Advisor

Erik Bodegom

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors




Physics -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Case studies, Physics -- Computer-assisted instruction, Physics -- Web-based instruction, Women -- Education (Higher) -- Attitudes, Distance education, Academic achievement




As the online class format becomes more popular, many see this as an opportunity to study how those who are typically underrepresented in the classroom may benefit from an online setting. In particular, the field of physics is well known for having a major gender disparity even at the undergraduate level. Recent literature suggests that female students may actually prefer online classes in physics, although studies have not found online classes to demonstrate any particular performance increase when comparing to those who take the class on-campus. This study uses data from introductory physics laboratories at Portland State University during the Fall 2016 term to investigate possible differences in student attitudes and performance levels in both class formats. After comparing students’ pre and post test scores, survey data and final lecture class scores, the online students tended to score higher and say they would prefer to take another online lab if given the chance. However, this was the case for all students (male and female included) which means students’ scores and/or class grades may have been affected by the lab format/equipment itself rather than solely student preference.


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