Development of an Introductory Physics Problem-Solving Assessment Tool Documents

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Development of an Introductory Physics Problem-Solving Assessment Tool 

written by Timothy A. French and Karen Cummings

The physics education research group at Rensselaer is currently working to develop an assessment tool that will measure the problem-solving ability of introductory physics stu-dents.  In its final form, the tool will consists of approximately 30-40 multiple-choice questions related to a limited number of classical mechanics topics.  There  are  currently four types of questions included in the exam:  attitudinal questions, quantitative problems that require students to identify the underlying principles used in solving the problem but not an explicit solution, questions that ask students to compare posed problems in terms of solution method, and quantitative problems requiring solution. Although the assess-ment is still under development, we have performed preliminary validation studies on questions requiring students to identify underlying principles. Specifically, both an ANOVA and a Fisher LSD test have been preformed.  These evaluations showed  (at the 98% and 95% confidence level, respectively) that wrong answers on assessment ques-tions correlate to below average performance on the problem solving portion of the final course exam.

Published July 26, 2001
Last Modified March 7, 2009

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