First Advisor

Jack Barbera

Date of Publication

Fall 12-3-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Chemistry






Identity (Psychology), Chemistry, Science -- Study and teaching



Physical Description

1 online resource (xii, 192 pages)


Identity has been theorized to aid in student persistence toward science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM) degrees. However, before we can explore the impacts of learning environments on identity, and subsequently persistence, robust measures that can aid in understanding how identity is fostered need to be available. This research study aims to create measures of identity by expanding an existing physics identity framework and contextualizing it to science and chemistry identities. Development of the measures was carried out through two distinct phases that provided evidence for reliability and multiple aspects of validity.

The first phase of the study used qualitative methods to build upon an existing physics identity framework in order to support content validity for the new measures. Semi-structured interviews were performed with nine students from Portland State University using questions built from the physics identity framework and contextualized to science and chemistry. Thematic analysis was subsequently used to define themes that occurred throughout the interviews. The final themes were then aligned with theoretically supported constructs to build a novel framework for science and chemistry identities that included the constructs of mindset, situational interest, verbal persuasion, vicarious experiences, and mastery experiences.

The second phase of the study built upon phase one by utilizing quantitative methods to support response process, structural, and relational validity as well as reliability of the novel measures. This phase continued to build upon the physics identity framework by mirroring previous quantitative analyses with the constructs of situational interest, verbal persuasion, and mastery experiences. Surveys measuring these constructs, using both science and chemistry identity wording were distributed to students at five US institutions enrolled in either general (n = 341) or organic chemistry (n = 226) at both the beginning and end of the courses. Response process validity was established by performing cognitive interviews with a subset of the sample from one institution (n = 8). The structural validity of the measures was analyzed using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) within each course for both wording types at each time point. Single-administration reliability was estimated by omega. Relational validity was supported by mirroring relations between the physics identity constructs with situational interest, verbal persuasion, and mastery experiences through structural equation modeling (SEM). Issues with the science wording was discussed. A final structural model for chemistry was described and parameters within general and organic chemistry were discussed. Key findings for this final model showed that verbal persuasion and situational interest are directly related to chemistry identity while mastery experiences is indirectly related to chemistry identity through verbal persuasion and situational interest.

By creating a robust measure of chemistry identity and understanding the relations among the constructs involved in identity formation, researchers can now implement interventions to target relevant aspects of chemistry identity and measure the impact. While a final measure of science identity was not presented due to complications with the science-worded version of the measure, valuable implications were drawn from phase one using the theoretically supported constructs that represented both science and chemistry identity. Specifically, interventions were suggested that have been previously shown to positively influence the proposed constructs involved in science and chemistry identity formation.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier

Included in

Chemistry Commons