Tag Archives: Physics

Force Concept Inventory—FCI—My Results Are In for 2013-2014

I administered the “pre-test” Force Concept Inventory (Halloun, Hake & Mosca, 1995) to my class a few days after school started on September 5, 2013.  I scanned all the responses (N=16).  Just a few days ago, May 19, 2014, I administered the “post-test”.

Madsen, McKagan and Sayre (2014) suggest an effect size to help report scores.  I adopt their table here to present my own results

Raw Gain 9.2-8.0 = 1.2
Normalized Gain 0.05
Effect Size 0.35

I clearly have a lot of work to do to improve my teaching effectiveness.  If I twiddle the student scores, say improving them each by 10 points, then my normalized gain and my effect size would both increase by a factor of 10.


Halloun, I., Hake R. & Mosca, E. (1995).  Force Concept Inventory [Revised].  © Modeling Instruction – American Modeling Teachers Association 2013.  Retrieved May 20, 2014 from http://modeling.asu.edu/R&E/FCI-RV95%20withInstr.pdf

Madsen, A., McKagan, S.B. & Sayre, E.C. (2014).  Best Practices for Administering Concept Inventories.  Physics Education.  Retrieved May 20, 2014 from http://arxiv.org/abs/1404.6500

Voice and Choice in Physics

This past week I asked my students what they wanted to study next in our Advanced Physics class.  (Note:  this is not an AP class, since I’m just a physics teacher padawan.)

I listed the remaining chapters in the book (12-31) with their titles and sections.  I asked the students to rank each chapter in interest from 1-5.  Sample size is N=11, 3 females and 8 males.

I took all the ratings for each chapter and averaged.  I also averaged across the ratings for each section, so I could see if there was a pattern of interest across the sections.

Here are the results.


When you group the Chapter Ratings by Section, you see a trend that you might have suspected, namely that students want to study Modern Physics.  However, if you note the Standard Deviation for Modern Physics, it is definitely wider, in other words, some students do *not* want to study Modern Physics.


Either way, next week we are off to Chapter 20, Electricity.  I can’t wait to talk about analogs to F=ma that exist in electronics , i.e. V=IR.

I should also note here that some of my inspiration for this move was some reading I was doing in the “Physics First” community.  Let me put some references here that speak with particular persuasion in favor of teaching Physics to 9th graders.


High School Committee of the American Association of Physics Teachers [AAPT]. (2006). Physics First: An Informational Guide for Teachers, School Administrators, Parents, Scientists and the Public.  AAPT. Retrieved November 9, 2013 from http://www.aapt.org/upload/phys_first.pdf

[Book Review] Where the Rubber Meets the Road

I’m reading a book by Richard N. Steinberg entitled An Inquiry Into Science Education, Where the Rubber Meets the Road.

Professor Steinberg took a sabbatical (2007-2008) from the City College of New York to teach high school physics in Harlem.  This book is a reflection on his experiences.

His themes are predictable if you’ve been following current topics in education.

  • teacher preparation
  • student apathy
  • classroom management
  • abysmal math fluency
  • standardized testing
  • teaching is a lot of work!

His more hopeful and helpful themes are around how he has stood for true inquiry in his science classrooms, and some lessons that he taught.  That plus some other references he cites as resources are worth the price of the book.

Steinberg spoke at a conference in Washington DC in May for the Robert Noyce Scholarship folks at PhysTEC, since he is also involved at that program at CCNY.  He doesn’t talk about PhysTEC in his book, but I suppose it would be out of context somewhat.

Mythbusting About Taking Physics in High School

Seven myths related to physics are busted in a new brochure from the AAPT.

1.  Physics will lower students’ GPAs and hurt their chances of getting into college.

2.  Students won’t miss out on future opportunities or experiences if they don’t take physics.

3.  Only the most mathematically advanced students can handle physics.

4.  Physics is for boys.

5.  Students don’t need to take physics in high school because they can just take it in college.

6.  Physics has little relevance to the world we in or to most jobs.

7.  The only careers you can have with a physics degree are to be a professor or teach high school.


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