Rate and Potential Test (RAPT)

Developed by Rhett Allain and Robert Beichner

Purpose To investigate the connection between the students’ ideas about rate of change and electric potential.
Format Multiple-choice
Duration 30 min
Focus Electricity / Magnetism Content knowledge (electric potential, rate of change)
Level Intro college
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Sample questions from the RAPT:

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R. Allain and R. Beichner, Rate of Change and Electric Potential, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2004, Sacramento, California, 2004.
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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 RAPT were developed based on student ideas from interviews about rate of change and electric potential or taken from existing research-based assessments. The initial version of the RAPT was tested in think-aloud interviews with students and revised. An open-ended version was then given to students to check that the multiple-choice answers were indeed those that reflected student thinking. The RAPT was given to over 400 introductory physics students at 6 universities, and 18 upper-level physics students. Appropriate statistical analyses of reliability, difficulty and discrimination were performed, and reasonable values found. RAPT results are published in one peer-reviewed paper and one dissertation.


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Typical Results

Typical scores on the RAPT. The RAPT was given as a post-test only, as it is not intended to measure student learning, but instead to look at the relationships between students understanding of rate of change and electric potential. (Allain, 2001)

The latest versions of the RAPT, released in 2001, are versions A and B. Version A gives all the rate of change questions followed by all the electric potential questions. Version B gives a rate of change question followed by a similar electric potential question. The purpose of these two versions is to look at the difference in the way students answer the questions based on their order.