Simplified Force Concept Inventory (SFCI)

Developed by Jane Jackson

Purpose To assess students' understanding of the most basic concepts in Newtonian physics using everyday language and common-sense distractors, at a seventh grade reading level.
Format Multiple-choice
Duration 30 min
Focus Mechanics Content knowledge (kinematics, forces)
Level High school, Middle school
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Sample question from the SFCI:

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RESEARCH VALIDATION
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 SFCI was developed by modifying the original FCI to fit a seventh-grade reading level using some items from the G-FCI and feedback from several ninth grade physics educators and FCI co-author David Hestenes. See the pages for the FCI and G-FCI for details on the research validating these tests. To compare the SFCI to the FCI, Osborn Popp and Jackson 2009 gave both tests to 95 11th- and 12th-grade students, and found that both scores and item difficulty were very similar on the two tests. In a second study, they randomly gave either the FCI or the SFCI to 103 ninth-grade students, and found that the ninth graders performed significantly higher on the SFCI. These results suggests that the simplified language is helpful for ninth graders, but does not make any difference for older students.

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Typical Results

11th- and 12th-grade students typically score about the same on the SFCI and FCI. 9th-grade students typically score higher on the SFCI than on the FCI. Below are typical raw scores (out of 30) for both tests from Osborne Popp and Jackson 2009.

  FCI SFCI
11th- and 12th-grade students 18.48 ± 6.48 18.42 ± 6.64
9th-grade students 13.10 ± 4.30 14.77 ± 3.89

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The latest version, V2015, was released in March 2015. The latest change, in March 2015, was correcting the spelling of scuba in #29. In Oct. 2013 a picture was added in question #25; and in question #7 the word necklace was added for clarity. Other changes from the original Aug. 2007 version: Sept. 2013, in questions #25, 26, & 27, context was changed from sofa to large empty box. June 2013: in question #29, the word “net” was removed. August 2009: question #12 context was changed from cannon to baby in high chair. May 2009: question #29 context was changed from fish to scuba diver. Jan. 2009: Question #18 was changed to FCI gender version (same context, but fewer words in answer choices).

Variation

Force Concept Inventory

Content knowledge Mechanics (forces, kinematics)
Intro college, High school
Pre/post, Multiple-choice