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Toward A Nationwide Dynamics Concept Inventory Assessment Test

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanics Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1202.1 - 8.1202.12



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Paper Authors

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Don Evans

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Gary Gray

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Francesco Costanzo

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Phillip Cornwell

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Brian Self

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1168

Toward a Nationwide Dynamics Concept Inventory Assessment Test

Gary L. Gray, Don Evans, Phillip Cornwell, Francesco Costanzo, Brian Self The Pennsylvania State University / Arizona State University / Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology / The Pennsylvania State University / USAF Academy


This paper will describe our efforts to develop a national concept inventory test in undergraduate dynamics, that is, a Dynamics Concept Inventory (DCI). This paper will present the current state of development and will discuss future efforts and directions of this project.


The body of research knowledge on student learning of Newtonian mechanics, including both kinematics and kinetics, has become quite rich in the last 15 years, but, because of its newness, this knowledge generally remains unfamiliar to most instructors whether their academic home is in a physics department or an engineering department. While it is not unusual for authors of papers on the teaching of mechanics in engineering education to refer to the history of how the teaching of the subject developed over the centuries since Newton published his general laws of motion (for a recent example, see Kraige15 ), this rich research literature on student learning of the subject has yet to have significantly in- fluenced either the presentation of the subject in textbooks or the emphasis and pedagogy used in the classroom. For the most part, teaching of dynamics continues to be patterned after how instructors were taught when they were students of the subject, rather than be- ing informed by research on learning. We believe that we are on the verge of seeing vast improvements in how much and how well students learn in this subject—we present this paper hoping that we can assist and even hasten this improvement. Much of the literature on student learning of mechanics addresses what has come to be known as “intuitive physics”, i.e., intuition-based rules or models that students have consciously or unconsciously developed to explain their physics-related experiences in the world. This intuitive physics includes what are commonly called student “miscon- ceptions”, which are sometimes referred to as “preconceptions” or “alternative concep- tions”.2, 3, 5–12, 17–24 Although there is some disagreement in the literature (see, for exam- ple, diSessa11 ) over the ability of intuitive physics to represent a “coherent, even theoreti- cal, view of the world”, the discussion involves basically how instructors should address

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright c 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Evans, D., & Gray, G., & Costanzo, F., & Cornwell, P., & Self, B. (2003, June), Toward A Nationwide Dynamics Concept Inventory Assessment Test Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11759

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