Comparing Student Learning with Multiple Research-Based Conceptual Surveys: CSEM and BEMA Documents

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Comparing student learning with multiple research-based conceptual surveys: CSEM and BEMA 

written by Steven J. Pollock

We present results demonstrating similar distributions of student scores, and statistically indistinguishable gains on two popular research-based assessment tools: the Brief Electricity and Magnetism Assessment (BEMA) and the Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism(CSEM). To deepen our understanding of student learning in our course environment and of these assessment tools as measures of student learning, we identify systematic trends and differences in results from these two instruments. We investigate correlations of both pre- and post- conceptual scores with other measures including traditional exam scores and course grades, student background (earlier grades), gender, a pretest of scientific reasoning, and tests of attitudes and beliefs about science and learning science. Overall, for practical purposes, we find the BEMA and CSEM are roughly equivalently useful instruments for measuring student learning in our course.

Published October 20, 2008
Last Modified May 22, 2009

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