Wave Concept Inventory (WCI)

Developed by Teri Rhodes and Ron Roedel

Purpose To assess students’ understanding of wave phenomena in an integrated upper-division engineering course on electronic and electromagnetic topics.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice, Multiple-response
Duration 20 min
Focus Waves / Optics Content knowledge (visualization of waves, mathematical depiction of waves, wave definitions)
Level Upper-level

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Sample questions from the WCI:

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R. Roedel, S. El-Ghazaly, T. Reed-Rhoads, and E. El-Sharawy, The Wave Concepts Inventory - An Assessment Tool for Courses in Electromagnetic Engineering, 1998 FIE Conference, Report No. F2A, 1998.
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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 WCI were developed by the instructors of an integrated electrical engineering course covering quantum mechanics and Schrödinger’s wave equation as well as Maxwell’s wave equations and their application to the propagation of electromagnetic waves. The questions were given to focus groups of students who discussed the questions and came to a consensus answer to each question. Subsequently, the questions were revised. The WCI has been given to over 100 juniors in an electrical engineering course at one university. There are two peer-reviewed publication presenting WCI data.


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Typical Results

Typical Scores on the WCI from Roedel et. al 1998:

Method   Pre-test (%) Post-test (%)  Change (%)  Normalized gain (%)
Traditional  31 ± 8.2   35 ± 9.7  2.7 ± 10  6.4
IE   35 ± 8.2  45 ± 8.5  10 ± 4.4 15


The latest version of the WCI, released in 1998, is version 1.