Effects of simulation-based formative assessments on students' conceptions in physics

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Background: The paper presents effects of simulation-based formative assessments on students' conceptions in physics. In the study, two topics-motion in two dimensions and conservation of energy-were selected to explore students' conceptions in physics, and related assessment tasks incorporating computer simulations and formative assessment questions were developed. Material and methods: The participant students were first-year college students with majors related to science or engineering. Analytic rubrics were developed to capture the students' normative and non-normative ideas revealed in their responses, and a holistic rubric was applied to categorize the responses into four response models. Results: The results demonstrated that, overall, students predicted and explained the given scientific phenomena with more valid scientific ideas after experiencing a computer simulation. However, the results also indicated that students' non-normative ideas were still present even after experiencing computer simulations, especially when they were required to consider an abstract scientific concept such as energy dissipation. Conclusions: The finding can be explained with knowledge-in-piece perspectives (diSessa, 1993), that students' naive knowledge is fragmented, and thus they do not demonstrate a coherent understanding of abstract science concepts across different situations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberem1722
JournalEurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2019


  • Computer simulation
  • Conceptual understanding
  • Formative assessment
  • Misconception


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