Gender FCI (G-FCI)

Developed by Laura McCullough

Purpose To assess students' understanding of the most basic concepts in Newtonian physics using everyday language and common-sense distractors, using contexts that are more "everyday" or "feminine.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice
Duration 30 min
Focus Mechanics Content knowledge (kinematics, forces)
Level Intro college, High school
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Sample question from the G-FCI:

L. McCullough, Gender Differences in Student Responses to Physics Conceptual Questions Based on Question Context, presented at the ASQ Advancing the STEM Agenda in Education, the Workplace and Society, University of Wisconsin-Stout, 2011.
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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

McCullough rewrote questions on the FCI to address the same content with more feminine and everyday contexts, e.g. changing a question about an airplane dropping a package to an eagle dropping a fish. She found that in a calculus-based introductory physics class the average scores for women on G-FCI were similar to those on the original FCI. Further, the gender gap in average scores on pre- and posttests was similar for the original and gender FCI. She compared the performance of men and women on individual questions on the original and gender FCI. She found that women performed better on gender FCI items 14 and 23, while men did worse on gender FCI item 22 and better on item 29. These differences averaged out so that overall, rewriting the FCI to have more feminine and everyday contexts did not change the gender gap. (McCullough and Meltzer 2001McCullough 2002McCullough 2011)


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Typical Results

In a calculus-based introductory physics class the average scores on the the G-FCI are similar to those on the original FCI, as illustrated by the figure below from McCullough 2009:


Version  Average score out of 30, standard deviation
Original version, pre-test (N=283)  9.2 (30.5%), 4.0
Revised version, pre-test (N=225) 10.6 (35.3%), 4.5
Original version, post-test (N=340) 13.8 (46.1%), 5.4
Revised version, post-test (N=378) 13.2 (43.9%), 6.0

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The G-FCI is on one of several variations of the original Force Concept Inventory, all of which have the same answer key:

The latest version of the G-FCI, released in 2000, is version 3.


Force Concept Inventory

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

Simplified Force Concept Inventory

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

Familiar Context Force Concept Inventory

Content knowledge Mechanics (kinematics, forces)
Intro college, High school