Mechanical Waves Conceptual Survey 2 (MWCS2)

Developed by Pablo Barniol and Genaro Zavala

Purpose To assess students’ understanding of basic wave concepts using a standard multiple-choice questions format, where each question has five answer choices.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice
Duration 30 min
Focus Waves / Optics Content knowledge (propagation, superposition, reflection, standing waves)
Level Intro college
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Sample questions from the MWCS2:

P. Barniol and G. Zavala, Mechanical waves conceptual survey: Its modification and conversion to a standard multiple-choice test, Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 12 (1), 010107 (2016).
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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 MWCS2 was adapted from the MWCS to simplify the question format. The MWCS2 developers found there was no signifiant differences between the overall scores of the MWCS and MWCS2. Appropriate statistical analyses of reliability, difficulty and discrimination of the MWCS2 questions was conducted, and reasonable values were found that were comparable to or better than those for the MWCS.  The MWCS2 has been given to over 200 students in Mexico, and the results published in one peer-reviewed publication. 


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Typical Results

Typical results for n=234 introductory physics students at a large private university in Mexico (Barniol and Zavala 2016).

The most recent version of the MWCS2, is version 2, published in 2016. The MWCS2 was adapted from the MWCS to simplify the question format. The developers of the MWCS2 converted all questions into the standard multiple-choice formats with five answer options each, changed the wording of questions, and added and removed answer choices for some questions. For the MWCS questions with two parts (answer and reasoning), the MWCS2 combines the answer and reasoning together, so that these questions just have five standard answer choices.


Wave Diagnostic Test

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

Mechanical Wave Conceptual Survey

Content knowledge Waves / Optics (mechanical waves, wave propagation, wave superposition, wave reflection, standing waves)
Intermediate, Intro college, High school
Pre/post, Multiple-choice, Multiple-response

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Wave Concept Inventory