Cognitive Diagnostic Assessment of Students’ Responses: An Example from Energy and Momentum Concepts

  • Bekele Gashe Dega Department of Physics, Ambo University


Introductory physics concepts, like electromagnetism concepts involve abstract relations which are particularly problematic in students’ learning. Electromagnetism concepts are crosscutting concepts across science and technology disciplines. Newly enrolled university students’ response states in electromagnetism concepts were investigated. Quantitative research method was used to collect and analyze data taken from 78 first year science students enrolled in a university in Ethiopia. A standardized Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism (CSEM) of 32 items multiple-choice test was used to collect data from the students. Data collection was done before commencing of the semester’s courses. Concentration analysis was used to analyze the students’ responses to the test. A paired samples t-test was conducted to evaluate the difference between the concentrations of the students’ responses to the scientific and alternative conceptions. The result from the CSEM data showed that there was no statistically significant difference between the two concentrations of the students’ responses (t=0.23, p=0.82). This showed that the students’ responses the concepts of electromagnetism are nearly in the random response state. In addition, three-level categorization of students’ responses on the test showed that 81% of the students’ responses were in the null non-modal state, 19% of the students’ responses were in the mixed bi-modal state and none of the students’ response was in pure state (one modal state). This means that the students had no pure correct or incorrect conceptual model which also shows their inconsistent and random response states. Based on this assessment, it can be concluded that teacher educators need to use concepts learning strategies to significantly develop students’ conceptual understanding of introductory physics courses.


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How to Cite
DEGA, Bekele Gashe. Cognitive Diagnostic Assessment of Students’ Responses: An Example from Energy and Momentum Concepts. European Journal of Physics Education, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 1, p. 13-23, apr. 2019. ISSN 1309-7202. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 sep. 2023. doi: