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From Assessment to Intervention: Conceptual Understanding of Rate and Accumulation Processes

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Works in Progress: Learning and Engagement

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Carli Denyse Flynn Syracuse University

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Carli Flynn is a PhD candidate in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Syracuse University. She has a MS degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a BS degree from Cornell University. Her engineering research interests include studying green infrastructure adoption for stormwater management in U.S. municipalities. Her education research interests extend to understanding how learners make sense of complex problems that require coordinating knowledge from multiple disciplines, the integration of stakeholder considerations into the engineering design process, and mixed methods research designs.

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Cliff I. Davidson Syracuse University

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Wilmot Professor of Engineering
Director, Environmental Engineering Program
Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems
and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Sharon Dotger Syracuse University

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Sharon Dotger is a Dual Associate Professor of Science Education at Syracuse University and Chair of the Department of Science Teaching. Her research interests focus on teacher and student learning in science and the relationships between instruction and learning outcomes for students.

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This Work in Progress paper investigates how engineering students think and learn about rate and accumulation processes. The Rate and Accumulation Concept Inventory (RACI) is designed to assess students’ conceptual understanding of these two different processes. The primary goals of the RACI are to assess (1) overall mastery of rate and accumulation concepts, (2) mastery of these concepts within particular contexts (e.g., heat flow, water flow), and (3) the propensity for certain misconceptions related to rate and accumulation processes. Several efforts were made to improve the validity, reliability, and fairness of the RACI. Methods as suggested by the Evidentiary Validity Framework were used to assess the validity of each of the primary goals of the RACI across multiple pilot tests. Results from these analyses led to several inventory revisions.

This paper also reports on the use of instructional methods that were developed to correct student misconceptions identified by the RACI. Inquiry-based learning activities were designed using features drawn from variation theory to challenge students’ conceptual understanding of rate and accumulation processes across multiple contexts. The design of the activities along with and their use in a sophomore level civil and environmental engineering course are discussed.

Flynn, C. D., & Davidson, C. I., & Dotger, S. (2016, June), From Assessment to Intervention: Conceptual Understanding of Rate and Accumulation Processes Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26965

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