In this study, we set out to investigate whether model-based teaching can have an influence on the interest, attitudes, and confidence levels of high school physics students compared to their traditionally instructed counterparts, and particularly whether there were any differences by gender. Statistical analysis of students' self-reported pre/post instruction problem solving confidence levels indicated that students who learned about electricity through model-based instruction experienced significantly greater gains in their levels of confidence about scientific reasoning. We also conducted an exploratory survey which indicated that the students in the model-based classes, particularly the females, gave responses to a science learning survey that were significantly more positive than students in the control group in regard to four factors: interest in science, use of imagery, the experience of active learning, and curiosity about science. The purpose of this exploratory study was to generate interesting hypotheses. It is hypothesized that the latter four differences originated in the whole class discussions during which students in the model-based classes were encouraged to cooperatively generate, evaluate and modify their explanatory models, and that the four differences led to deeper comprehension and consequently higher confidence in conceptual problem solving. Research indicates females are less likely than males to pursue post-secondary study and careers in STEM disciplines. We hope that this study and further studies in the future may contribute to finding solutions to this inequity.