Introduction to Concept Inventory
 

Motivated by the Force Concept Inventory created by Halloun and Hestenes[1-4] and its impact on physics education, the Foundation Coalition is working to create concept inventories for specific engineering disciplines. The Force Concept Inventory (FCI) was designed to measure conceptual, not computational, understanding of Newtonian Mechanics. The questions focus on intuitive comprehension in-dependent of knowledge of the terminology or numerical modeling. Following the lead of the FCI, faculty members are creating concept inventories for other disciplines. More information about concept inventories can be found in the paper by Evans and Hestenes.

Thermodynamics Concept Inventory - Thermodynamics is a fundamental component in several engineering curricula, taught in a two-course sequence in many mechanical engineering programs. There are two versions of the Thermodynamics Concept Inventory (TCI)[8], one for beginning students, the other for students entering the second course. A preliminary version of the first-semester TCI has been tested on a limited group of students. Broader scale testing, followed by refinement of the test instrument, is planned for the 2001-2002 period.

Strength of Materials Concept Inventory (SMCI) - The Strength of Materials Concept Inventory (SMCI)[9] assesses mastery of fundamental concepts in a sophomore mechanics of solids or strength of materials course. Concepts examined include stress, strain and deformations due to axial, bending and torsional loads; failure of ductile and brittle materials, and axial buckling. Testing began at UA and TAMU in summer 2001 and will be available for testing at other schools in spring 2002.

Signals and Systems Concept Inventory - Linear signals and systems is a core component of undergraduate curricula in electrical and computer engineering. The Signals and Systems Concept Inventory (SSCI)[10] measures students' understanding of fundamental concepts such as linearity, time-invariance, and transform representations. There are two versions of the SSCI, one for continuous-time (SSCI-CT) and a second for discrete-time (SSCI-DT). During the spring of 2001, the SSCI-CT was given at GMU and UMD. In 2001-2002, the SSCI-CT is being tested by a broader group of schools, includ-ing the U.S. Air Force and Naval Academies, as well as GMU and UMD.

Electromagnetics Concept Inventory - The Electromagnetics Concept Inventory (EMCI) is best suited for junior-level undergraduate EM courses in EE depts. It can be used in a variety of undergraduate and graduate EM-related courses in engineering and physics departments.

Circuit Theory is usually the first course in the major for electrical engineering and computer engineering students. Part One of the Circuits Concept Inventory (CCI) will measure a student's conceptual understanding of the basic properties of electricity, circuit components, and linear time-invariant networks (DC and AC). Part Two will address frequency domain concepts, coupled inductors, convolution, impulse response, and transform techniques.

The goal of the Fluids Mechanics Concept Inventory (FMCI) is to establish a common base of fluids concepts and provide instruments that could be used by faculty to evaluate the degree to which students in a given program have mastered those concepts. The inventory would be conducted in each of the fluids classes at the start of the semester to assess the knowledge of entering students and at the end of the semester to assess whether students have mastered the necessary concepts. An outcome of conducting the inventory might be modifications to the curriculum and courses to ensure that students obtain the necessary understanding of the basic concepts.

An instrument is being developed to measure misconceptions on materials structure, processing, and properties. It will be used to examine student knowledge before and after teaching introductory materials engineering courses that are required by many engineering colleges. Considerable research shows that prior misconceptions are strongly held even in the face of good instruction. A better understanding of "prior knowledge" can help instructors improve instruction in their classes.

References for Further Information

  1. Hestenes, David, Malcolm Wells, and Gregg Swackhamer (1992). Force Concept Inventory. The Physics Teacher, 30 (3), 141-151
  2. Hestenes, David, and Ibrahim Halloun (1995). Interpreting the Force Concept In-ventory. The Physics Teacher, 33 (8)
  3. Halloun, Ibrahim and David Hestenes (1985). The initial knowledge state of col-lege physics students. American Journal of Physics, 53(11), 1043-1055.
  4. Halloun, Ibrahim and David Hestenes (1985). Common sense concepts about mo-tion. American Journal of Physics, 53(11), 1056-1065
  5. D. L. Evans and David Hestenes, "The Concept of the Concept Inventory As-sessment Instrument," Proceedings, 2001 Frontiers in Education Conference, Reno, Nevada, 10-13 October 2001
  6. R. J. Roedel, S. El-Ghazaly, Teri Reed Rhoads, and E. El-Sharawy, "The Wave Concepts Inventory - An Assessment Tool for Courses in Electromagnetic Engi-neering, " Proceedings, 1998 Frontiers in Education Conference, November 1998, Tempe, AZ.
  7. Rhoads, Teri Reed, Ron J. Roedel, "The Wave Concept Inventory - A Cognitive Instrument Based on Bloom's Taxonomy," Proceedings, 1999 Frontiers in Educa-tion Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 10-13 November 1999
  8. Midkiff, K. Clark, Thomas A. Litzinger, and D. L. Evans, "Development of Engi-neering Thermodynamics Concept Inventory Instruments," Proceedings, 2001 Frontiers in Education Conference, Reno, Nevada, 10-13 October 2001
    One-page FIE2001 working paper: http://fie.engrng.pitt.edu/fie2001/papers/1356.pdf
    FIE 20001 presentation: http://foundationcoalition.org/thermo
  9. Richardson, Jim, and Jim Morgan, "Development of an Engineering Strength of Material Concept Inventory Assessment Instrument," Proceedings, 2001 Frontiers in Education Conference, Reno, Nevada, 10-13 October 2001
    One-page FIE2001 working paper: http://fie.engrng.pitt.edu/fie2001/papers/1353.pdf
    FIE 20001 presentation: http://foundationcoalition.org/strength
  10. Wage, Kathleen E., and John R. Buck, "Development of the Signals and Systems Concept Inventory (SSCI) Assessment Instrument," Proceedings, 2001 Frontiers in Education Conference, Reno, Nevada, 10-13 October 2001
    One-page FIE2001 working paper: http://fie.engrng.pitt.edu/fie2001/papers/1358.pdf
    FIE 20001 presentation: http://foundationcoalition.org/system