Electricity and Magnetism Conceptual Assessment (EMCA)

Developed by Darren L. Broder, Michele W. McColgan, and Rose A. Finn

Purpose To assess basic concepts in introductory E&M courses.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice
Duration 45 min
Focus Electricity / Magnetism Content knowledge (electrostatics, electric fields and force, circuits, magnetism, induction)
Level Intro college
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Sample questions from the EMCA:

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M. McColgan, R. Finn, D. Broder, and G. Hassel, Assessing students’ conceptual knowledge of electricity and magnetism, Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 13 (020121), (2017).
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Bronze Validation
This is the third highest level of research validation, corresponding to at least 3 of the validation categories below.

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • Student thinking

Studied Using:

  • Student interviews
  • Expert review
  • Appropriate statistical analysis

Research Conducted:

  • At multiple institutions
  • By multiple research groups
  • Peer-reviewed publication

The multiple-choice questions on the EMCA were developed by a group of five faculty members based on their experience teaching the relevant topics. The EMCA was given to over 200 algebra-based and calculus-based second-semester introductory physics students, and appropriate statistical analyses of reliability, difficulty and discrimination were conducted. Reasonable values were found. Scores for men and women were similar.


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Language Translator(s)  
Indonesian Riska Meikana Br Ginting, Syuhendri, and Nely Andriani

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Typical Results

Average scores and standard deviation for pretest, post-test, and normalized gain in introductory electromagnetism courses at Sienna College and George Washington University (GWU). The Sienna College algebra-based course has an emphasis on topics relevant to life sciences and is "taught in a traditional lecture style interspersed with students completing preassigned problems on the board during class." The Sienna College calculus-based course is taught with "a mix of short lectures frequently interspersed with think-pair-share questions and other mini problems." The GWU course is taught using a SCALE-UP model. From McColgan et al. 2017.

Course type n Pretest SD Post-test SD Normalized gain SD
Siena calculus-based 105 10.5 3.7 17.1 5.1 0.342 0.242
Siena algebra-based 120 10.1 4.4 12.7 5.1 0.126 0.228
Siena all 225 10.3 4.1 14.7 5.6 0.224 0.258
GWU algebra-based 130 11.5 3.5 17.4 4.8 0.309 0.256

The latest version of the EMCA, released in 2015, is version 1.