SSLEQ-Physics: A valid survey to measure student engagement in science laboratories


  • Srividya D. Kota The University of Sydney
  • Jacinta den Besten The University of Melbourne
  • Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway Monash University
  • Manjula D. Sharma The University of Sydney


student engagement, undergraduate science, laboratories, survey validation


In science, experiments can often be used to engage students; some students engage with them, others don’t. Though student engagement is important for student success (Fredricks, 2011; Sinatra et al., 2015), research considering undergraduate physics student engagement is limited. The aim of this presentation is to present the validation of a survey, SSLEQ (Science student laboratory engagement questionnaire), which measures students’ cognitive, behavioural, and emotional engagement. The survey was developed and trialed within a broader research project focusing on developing a blended model to design experiments integrating inquiry skills, modelling, and technology, with the intention of enhancing student engagement (Kota, 2019). Questionnaires from the ASLE survey (Barrie et al., 2019) and AEQ-Physics Prac (Bhansali, Angstmann, & Sharma, 2020) were adapted. Furthermore, items to measure how experiment(s) were helpful in developing inquiry skills, using technology, and understanding modelling were added. The cognitive engagement items were about motivators underpinning students’ learning, understanding of content and development of skills. The behavioural engagement items queried the resources provided for the lab programs, such as experimental notes and demonstrators’ help. For emotional engagement, emotions explored positive and negative thoughts and feelings. Confirmatory factor analysis and descriptive statistics conducted with a sample of 304 first-year physics students confirm the reliability and internal validity of the survey for the purposes of this study. The validated survey, which measures three types of engagement, is a tool that academics in other contexts can use to assess and positively influence student engagement in laboratory courses.


Barrie, S. C., Bucat, R. B., Buntine, M. A., Burke da Silva, K., Crisp, G. T., George, A. V., ... Yeung, A. (2015). Development, evaluation, and use of a student experience survey in undergraduate science laboratories: The Advancing Science by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory Student Laboratory Learning Experience Survey. International Journal of Science Education, 37(11), 1795-1814.

Bhansali, A., Angstmann, E., & Sharma, M. D. (2020, September). AEQ-physics: a valid and reliable tool to measure emotions in physics. In Proceedings of The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (pp. 93-98).

Fredricks, J. A., (2011). Engagement in school and out-of-school contexts: A multidimensional view of engagement. Theory Into Practice, 50(4), 327-335.

Kota, S, D., (2019). Increasing student engagement through the integration of digital technologies in inquiry-based investigations [master’s thesis, Sydney], The University of Sydney.

Sinatra, G. M., Heddy, B. C., & Lombardi, D. (2015). The challenges of defining and measuring student engagement in science. Educational Psychologist, 50(1), 1-13.

Author Biographies

Srividya D. Kota, The University of Sydney

School of Physics, Faculty of Science

Jacinta den Besten, The University of Melbourne

School of Physics

Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway, Monash University

School of Physics and Astronomy

Manjula D. Sharma, The University of Sydney

School of Physics, Faculty of Science