Assessment Examinations:
Action Research Kit

What is Action Research? Action Research is a method for assessing the effectiveness of your teaching without undertaking a formal publishible educational research project. This set of assessment examinations will enable you to undertake action research on a number of topics using a series of multiple choice conceptual assessments.

The Workshop Physics Action Research Kit (ARK) consists of conceptual and attitudinal surveys appropriate for use with students who are using Workshop Physics materials. These surveys will help you assess whether your Workshop Physics students have learned the critical concepts and improved their attitudes towards science and learning physics.

The Kit Contains the Following Examinations:
The Quadratic and Linear Conceptual Evaluation (QLCE)
The Vector Evaluation Test (VET)
The Force-Motion Concept Evaluation (FMCE)
The Heat and Temperature Concept Evaluation (HCTE)
The Electric Circuits Concept Evaluation (ECCE)
The Maryland Physics Expectations Survey (MPEX)

Suggestions for administering ARK Examinations:Most of these assessment examinations should be administered on a pre and post test basis so that you can assess gains in student learning or changes in student attitudes and expectations over the span of time covered by your course.

Pre-test: The pre-test should be given as early in the class as possible, preferably on the first day. As with any pre-instruction test the students are not expected to know the material. You might want to reassure them that a poor score will not affect their grade. It is vital that you collect all copies of the exams from the students so they will not use it to study for later exams. It is also important that you not return the exams to the students after you grade them. It is often reassuring to students if you offer to go over the results of a pre test personally.

Post-test: There are two opinions on when to administer post-tests. One opinion is that it is best to incorporate the post-test in an exam so that the students have maximum motivation to answer the questions. Another says that this may give an artificially high score as the students will have crammed for the test and that it is best to "surprise" the students with the post-test, which can still be graded for motivation. It is up to you which to choose. Once again, it is vital that you collect all copies of the exams from the students so they will not give it to students who you might administer the exam to in the future. It is also important that you not return the exams to the students after you grade them. It is often helpful if you offer to go over the results of a post test personally with any student who is interested.

REMINDER: THESE ASSESSMENT EXAMINATIONS AND THE ANSWER KEYS SHOULD NEVER BE GIVEN TO STUDENTS. CONTACT PRISCILLA LAWS BY EMAIL TO OBTAIN A PASSWORD.


The Quadratic and Linear Conceptual Evaluation (QLCE)
by Ron Thornton, Priscilla Laws and Pat Cooney
There is a growing awareness that introductory physics students should learn how to "read" equations that describe physical phenomena and understand the role that functional relationships and coefficients play in modeling physical situations and in determining the nature of graphs based on data.

This survey evaluates: (1) basic mathematical modeling skills when a quadratic function is used to model a kinematic phenomenon under different circumstances; and (2) gauges student understanding of the relationship between graphs and changes in linear equation coefficients and vice versa. The survey has 40 items (that test functional dependence as well as rates of change). Some of questions are matrix-like and require 5 answers each.

The role of analytic mathematical modeling in describing physical phenomena with equations is described in Appendix C of Physics With Video Analysis published by Vernier Software and Technology.

NOTE: The QLCE replaces a more extended Mathematical Modeling Conceptual Evaluation (MMCE) that was distributed in the past. The MMCE had included questions on relating exponential functions with water flow from the bottom of a vessel. Because these questions that were not of much interest to instructors and have not been validated, the authors of the evaluation decided to eliminate them.

For more information about the QLCE, contact Priscilla Laws
* Printable version
* Answer key

The Vector Evaluation Test (VET)
by Ron Thornton
A 31 item multiple-choice and short-answer survey testing vector analysis skills including addition and subtraction, component analysis, and comparing magnitudes. Not machine gradeable. Should take about 1/2 hour to complete.
For more information, contact Ron Thornton
* Printable version
* Answer key

The Force-Motion Concept Evaluation (FMCE)
by Ron Thornton and David Sokoloff
A survey containing 47 items in a multiple-choice multiple-response format. This covers a wider variety of topics than the FCI, including many more questions on kinematics. Machine gradeable on a Scantron sheet except for one item, which requests a written response. An Excel Template to help you analyze this assessment is available at the University of Maine Physics Education Research website .
For more information, see R.K. Thornton and D.R. Sokoloff, "Assessing student learning of Newton's laws: The Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation," Am. J. Phys. 66(4), 228-351 (1998) or contact Ron Thornton or David Sokoloff.
* Printable version
* Answer key

The Heat and Temperature Concept Evaluation (HCTE)
by Ron Thornton and David Sokoloff
A 28 item survey on concepts of heat, temperature, and heat flow. Should take about 30-40 minutes to complete. All but one of the items are machine gradeable. One item requires drawing a graph and writing a sentence. For more information on the survey, contact Ron Thornton or David Sokoloff.
An Excel Template to help you analyze this assessment is available at the University of Maine Physics Education Research website .
* Printable version
* Answer key

The Electric Circuits Concept Evaluation (ECCE)
by David Sokoloff
A 45 item multiple-choice survey probing student understanding of direct and alternating current circuits. Some items include capacitors and inductors. Machine gradeable using 10-item Scantron sheets. Some items request explanations. Should take about one hour to complete.
For more information, contact David Sokoloff.
An Excel Template to help you analyze this assessment is available at the University of Maine Physics Education Research website .
* Printable version
* Answer key

The Maryland Physics Expectations Survey (MPEX)
by E. F. Redish, R. N. Steinberg, and J. M. Saul
A 34-item Likert scale (5-point agree-disagree) survey probing student expectations about the nature of learning in a physics class. Most items fall into 5 clusters: independence/authority, concepts/formulas, coherence/pieces, reality link, and math link. Should take about 20-30 minutes to complete. A spreadsheet for the construction of favorable/unfavorable response diagrams is included. An Excel Template to help you analyze this assessment is available at the University of Maine Physics Education Research website .
For more information on MPEX, see E. F. Redish, J. M. Saul, and R. N. Steinberg, "Student Expectations In Introductory Physics," Am. J. Phys. 66 212-224 (1998) or check the University of Maryland website.
* Printable version


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