One of the major findings of physics education research over the past 30 years is that students can often learn how to successfully solve certain types of physics problems while still having very little qualitative understanding of the underlying physics concepts. The research behind this finding is built upon valid, reliable, and repeatable measurements of students’ conceptual understanding. Researchers have developed a number of tools to make these measurements, including standardized multiple choice instruments. Probably the most well known of these is the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), first published by David Hestenes, Malcolm Wells, and Gregg Swackhamer in 1992.
The FCI consists of 30 questions designed to assess conceptual understanding in several areas of mechanics, including kinematics, Newton’s laws, superposition, and types of forces. Each question has a single Newtonian correct answer with several distractors based on students’ common-sense misconceptions. The test is designed to be administered twice: first as a pre-course assessment of students’ understanding before instruction, and again at the end of the course. By comparing the pre-test to post-test gains on the FCI, instructors can easily evaluate how well their students improved in conceptual understanding in mechanics. Furthermore, because it is so widely used, FCI gains can be compared across or within institutions to compare the effectiveness of different pedagogies.
As part of our commitment to helping instructors improve the educational experience for their students, WebAssign is pleased to provide the FCI as an additional resource available to all instructors, at no additional cost. Furthermore, for instructors not currently using WebAssign, we can provide free access to students for the express purpose of using the FCI. Contact us for more information today!
Important Usage Notes
The FCI questions are provided by WebAssign for the express purpose of administering the assessment as a complete assignment. Use of these questions as an additional bank of questions for homework or student practice is prohibited by our agreement with the authors. If you wish to give the FCI as a pre/post test, we recommend using the pre-made assignment, “Mechanics Survey” (assignment ID 236170), which contains the recommended settings for the test, and scheduling it as a password-protected, timed assignment, using WebAssign’s Lockdown Browser. For help, see “Scheduling Quizzes and Tests” in WebAssign’s Instructor Support, or contact us for more information.
Adding FCI Assessment to Your WebAssign Course
If you are creating a new course:
From your home page, click Create, then select Course. This brings you to the Creating a New Course page. Fill in your course information and select your textbook, as usual. Under the heading Textbooks on the right side of the page is a scroll box labeled Select any additional resources that you would like to use. Check the box next to Force Concept Inventory.
If you are adding this resource to an existing course:
From the ClassView page, click Edit Class Settings in the Class Tools box. This brings you to the Class Settings page. Under the heading Section Information, on the right side of the page, click Add Textbooks & Additional Resources. In the window that pops up, under the heading Additional Resources, scroll to: Hestenes, Wells, and Swackhamer, Force Concept Inventory and click this entry to highlight it, then click Save.
For more information about the collection of additional resources that WebAssign offers please refer to our Online Instructor Support.