Mechanical Wave Conceptual Survey (MWCS)

Developed by Apisit Tongchai, Manjula D. Sharma, Ian D. Johnston, Kwan Arayathanitkul, and Chernchok Soankwan

Purpose To identify students’ alternative conceptions about mechanical waves before instruction and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction at the end of a course.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice, Multiple-response
Duration 30 min
Focus Waves / Optics Content knowledge (mechanical waves, wave propagation, wave superposition, wave reflection, standing waves)
Level Intermediate, Intro college, High school
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Sample questions from the MWCS:

MWSC sample questions

MWCS Implementation and Troubleshooting Guide

Everything you need to know about implementing the MWCS in your class.

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A. Tongchai, M. Sharma, I. Johnston, K. Arayathanitkul, and C. Soankwan, Developing, Evaluating and Demonstrating the Use of a Conceptual Survey in Mechanical Waves, Int. J. Sci. Educ. 31 (18), 2437 (2009).
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Silver Validation
This is the second highest level of research validation, corresponding to at least 5 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 MWCS were developed from the open-ended questions on the Waves Diagnostic Test (WDT). The open-ended WDT questions were given to Thai students, who were then interviewed about their responses, and the survey was revised as a result. The open-ended questions were also given to Australian students. All the student responses were used to create multiple-choice answers. The multiple-choice questions then underwent expert review. The MWCS was given to a new group of Australian and Thai students and appropriate statistical analyses of reliability, difficulty and discrimination were conducted and reasonable values found for each. The WDT has been used with over 1000 students in American high schools and universities, as well as Thai high schools. There are two peer-reviewed publication presenting MWCS data.


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Language Translator(s)  
Spanish Pablo Barniol, Genaro Zavala, Enrique Arribas, and Tere Franco
Thai Apisit Tongchai, Kwan Arayathanitkul, and Chernchok Soankwan

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Typical Results

There are no published typical results for the MWCS.

The latest version of the MWCS, released in 2009, is version 1. The MWCS is a multiple-choice adaptation of the WDT, an earlier survey that included open-ended questions.


Wave Diagnostic Test

Content knowledge Waves / Optics (waves)
Intermediate, Intro college, High school
Pre/post, Multiple-choice, Multiple-response, Short answer

Mechanical Waves Conceptual Survey 2

Content knowledge Waves / Optics (standing waves, propagation, superposition, reflection)
Intro college
Pre/post, Multiple-choice

Related Assessment

Wave Concept Inventory