Probing Students Misconceptions results from Concept Inventory and Their Understanding in Science Learning

  • Horace Crogman San Bernardino Valley College
  • Raul Peters Paine College
  • Maryam TrebeauCrogman California State University Stanislaus


Concept inventory (CI) tests are typically used to measure students’ general knowledge before and after instruction. We find issue with the current format of these tests, which some researchers claim, measure students’ misconceptions, since the answers choices given to students do not take into account their prior knowledge. We particularly analyze Force Concept Inventory (FCI) tests results to reflect on what CI tests are measuring in general. Also, students’ choices on FCIs are more associated with their natural experiences than their knowledge of the Newtonian signals. Thus, we propose some modifications to the FCI format and show how this change helps to parse out what of students’ answers are simple misunderstanding or true misconceptions to focus on building instruction. Results show that: 1/ Concepts are very disorganized in students’ minds, 2/ despite some improvement at post-test, students’ choices from pre-test to post-test do not stay consistent, 3/ modifying the test helped come up with clearer explanations about students’ choices. We found that very little work has been done to assess and rethink FCIs in the past few decades. Our new proposed design opens doors to fairer and more organic testing/assessment practices in college STEM.


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How to Cite
CROGMAN, Horace; PETERS, Raul; TREBEAUCROGMAN, Maryam. Probing Students Misconceptions results from Concept Inventory and Their Understanding in Science Learning. European Journal of Physics Education, [S.l.], v. 9, n. 1, p. 23-44, oct. 2018. ISSN 1309-7202. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 19 nov. 2018. doi: