Conceptualization, Development and Validation of an Instrument for Investigating Elements of Undergraduate Physics Laboratory Learning Environments: The UPLLES (Undergraduate Physics Laboratory Learning Environment Survey)
First-year undergraduate physics laboratories are important physics learning environments. However, there is a lack of empirically informed literature regarding how students perceive their overall laboratory learning experiences. Recipe formats persist as the dominant form of instructional design in these sites, and these formats do not adequately support the development of students’ inquiry processes. There may be valid reasons for the lack of research into students’ views of their undergraduate physics laboratory learning environments, but work should be done to address these issues so that such research can occur. This paper describes the development and validation of a 23-item instrument, the UPLLES (Undergraduate Physics Laboratory Learning Environment Survey) that was undertaken as part of a multi-year project aimed to develop guided-inquiry oriented Physics laboratories for first-year students at the University of Alberta. The UPLLES was developed and validated through factor analysis using 476 student responses. The five sub-scales of the UPLLES are, Inquiry Orientation, Integration, Material Environment, Student Community, and Instructor Support. The value of the UPLLES within a battery of measures for evaluating reform efforts in undergraduate physics laboratories is discussed.
synergistic research and development. In B. J. Fraser, K. G. Tobin, and C. J. McRobbie (Eds.),
Second International Handbook of Science Education (pp. 1041-1060). Dordrecht: Springer.
Beamish, J., Gingrich, D., Couch, J., & Unsworth, M. (2002). Unpublished Report to the Curriculum
Committee of the Undergraduate Laboratories Review Committee. Edmonton: Department of
Physics, University of Alberta.
Fraser, B. J. (2002). Learning environments research: Yesterday, today and tomorrow. In S. C. Goh and
M. S. Khine (Eds.), Studies in educational learning environments (pp. 1-25). Singapore: World
Scientific Publishing Company.
Fraser, B. J. (2012). Classroom learning environments: Retrospect, context and prospect. In B. J. Fraser,
K. G. Tobin, and C. J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second International Handbook of Science Education
(pp. 1191-1239). Dordrecht: Springer.
Fraser, B. J., Giddings, G. J. & McRobbie, C. J. (1992). Assessment of the psychosocial environment
of university science laboratory classrooms: A cross national study. Higher Education, 34, 431-
Fraser, B. J., Giddings, G. J. & McRobbie, C. J. (1995). Evolution and validation of a personal form of
an instrument for assessing science laboratory classroom environments. Journal of Research in
Science Teaching, 32(4), 399–422.
Fraser, B. J., & Griffiths, A. K. (1992). Psychosocial environment of science laboratory classrooms in
Canadian schools and universities. Canadian Journal of Education, 17(4), 391-404.
Ibrahim, B., Buffler, A., & Lubben, F. (2009). Profiles of freshman physics students’ views on the
nature of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46, 248-264.
Jiménez-Aleixandre, M. P., & Puig, B. (2012). Argumentation, evidence evaluation and critical
thinking. In B. J. Fraser, K. G. Tobin, and C. J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second International
Handbook of Science Education (pp. 1001-1015). Dordrecht: Springer.
Johnson, B., & Stevens, J. J. (2001). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis of the school level
environment questionnaire. Learning Environments Research, 4(3), 325- 344.
Joliffe, I. T. (2002). Principal component analysis (2nd Ed.). New York: Springer-Verlag.
Küçüközer, H., Kirtak Ad, V. N., Ayverdi, L., & Eğdir, S. (012). Turkish adaptation of constructivist
learning environment survey. Elementary Education Online, 11(3), 671-688.
Lewin, K. (1936). Principles of topological psychology. New York: McGraw.
Lunetta, V. N., Hofstein, A., & Clogh, M. P. (2007). Learning and teaching in the school science
laboratory: An analysis of research, theory, and practice. In S. K. Abell & N. Lederman (Eds.),
Handbook of research on science education (pp. 393-441). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Maor, D. (2000). A teacher professional development program on using a constructivist multimedia
learning environment. Learning Environments Research, 2(3), 307-330.
Maor, D., & Fraser, B. J. (1996). Use of classroom environment perceptions in evaluating inquirybased
computer assisted learning. International Journal of Science Education, 18, 401-421.
Meldrum, A., Beamish, J., & Thomas, G. P. (2011, January). Transforming the Undergraduate Physics
Laboratory Experience: A Guided Inquiry Approach. Unpublished application to the Teaching
and Learning Enhancement Fund of the University of Alberta. Edmonton: The University of
Moos, R. H. (1979). Evaluating educational environments: Procedures, measures, findings, and policy
implications. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Murray, H. A. (1938). Explorations in personality. New York: Oxford University Press.
Paz, P. (2008). Development of a valid and reliable survey instrument to assess teacher practice as a
function of technology support and training. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of
California, Santa Barbara, United States of America.
Reise, S. P., Waller, N. G., & Comfrey, A. L. (2000). Factor analysis and scale revision. Psychological
Assessment, 12, 287-297.
Santos, J. R. A. (1999). Cronbach's Alpha: A Tool for Assessing the Reliability of Scales. Journal of
Extension, 37(2). Retrieved from http://www.joe.org/joe/1999april/tt3.php
Schultz-Jones, B. A., & Ledbetter, C. E. (2013). Evaluating students’ perceptions of library and science
inquiry: Validation of two new learning environment questionnaires. Learning Environments
Research, 16(3), 329-348.
Tavakol, M., & Dennick, R. (2011). Making sense of Cronbach’s alpha. International Journal of
Medical Education, 2, 53-55.
Taylor, P.C.S., Fraser, B. J., & White, L. R. (1994, April). CLES: An instrument for monitoring the
development of constructivist learning environments. Paper presented at the annual meeting of
the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans.
Thomas, G. P. (2003). Conceptualisation, development and validation of an instrument for evaluating
the metacognitive orientation of science classroom learning environments: The Metacognitive
Orientation Learning Environment Scale - Science (MOLES-S). Learning Environments
Research, 6(3), 175-197.
Thomas, G. P. (2004). Dimensionality and construct validity of an Instrument Designed to Measure the
Metacognitive Orientation of Science Classroom Learning Environments. Journal of Applied
Measurement, 5(4), 367-384.
Thomas, G. P. (2012). The Metacognitive Science Teacher: A statement for enhanced teacher cognition
and pedagogy. In F. Ornek and I. Saleh (Eds.), Contemporary Science Teaching Approaches:
Promoting Conceptual Understanding in Science (pp. 29-53). Charlotte, NC: Information Age
Treagust, D., & Duit, R. (2008). Conceptual change: A discussion of theoretical, methodological and
practical challenges for science education. Cultural Studies in Science Education, 3, 297-328.
Vosniadou, S. (2012). Reframing the classical approach to conceptual change: Preconceptions,
misconceptions and synthetic models. In B. J. Fraser, K. G. Tobin, and C. J. McRobbie (Eds.),
Second International Handbook of Science Education (pp. 119-130). Dordrecht: Springer.
Walberg, H. J., & Anderson, G. J. (1968). Classroom climate and individual learning. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 59, 414-419.
Ward, G., & Fisher, D. L. (2013). Development and use of an instrument for assessing the departmentlevel
work environment: The department-level environment questionnaire (DLEQ). Learning
Environments Research, 16(1), 113-130.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The copyright for all articles belongs to the authors. All other copyright is held by the journal.