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Relevant CAT: Conceptual Diagnostic Test

Discipline: Physics

The Force Concept Inventory (FCI) instrument is designed to assess student understanding of the most basic concepts in Newtonian physics. This forced-choice instrument has 30 questions and looks at six areas of understanding: kinematics, Newton's First, Second, and Third Laws, the superposition principle, and types of forces (such as gravitation, friction). Each question offers only one correct Newtonian solution, with common-sense distractors (incorrect possible answers) that are based upon student's misconceptions about that topic, gained from interviews.

The FCI is available in twenty-seven languages as of February 2015: Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, Finnish (Suomi), French (Canadian), French (France), German, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian (Italiano), Japanese, Malaysian (Bahasa), Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (Portugal), Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, & Turkish.

TThe FCI is available to educators and can be accessed at the Modeling Instruction Program at Arizona State University:


Ibrahim Halloun (Department of Physics and Astronomy, Arizona State University and Department of Science and Mathematics Education, Lebanese University)

Richard Hake (Emeritus, Department of Physics, Indiana University – Bloomington)

David Hestenes (Research Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Arizona State University)

Eugene P. Mosca (Department of Physics, U.S. Naval Academy)

Greg Swackhamer (Glenbrook North High School, Northbrook, IL)

Malcolm Wells (Deceased, Marcos De Niza High School, Tempe, AZ)

Selected References:
Halloun, I. & Hestenes, D. The Search for Conceptual Coherence in FCI Data. Modeling Instruction Workshop website at Arizona State University. http://modeling.asu.edu/R&E/CoherFCI.pdf (14 December 2001).

Huffman, D. & Heller, P. (1995). What Does the Force Concept Inventory Actually Measure? The Physics Teacher, 33, 138-143.

Hestenes, D. & Halloun, I. (1992). Interpreting the FCI. The Physics Teacher. 33, 502-506. http://modeling.asu.edu/R&E/InterFCI.pdf (14 December 2001)

Hestenes, D., Wells, M., & Swackhamer, G. (1992). Force Concept Inventory. The Physics Teacher, 30, 141-158.

Halloun, I. & Hestenes, D. (1985). The Initial Knowledge State of College Physics Students. American Journal of Physics, 53, 1043-1055

Halloun,I. & Hestenes, D. (1985). Common Sense Concepts about Motion. American Journal of Physics, 53, 1056-1065. http://modeling.asu.edu/R&E/commonsense.pdf (14 December 2001)

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