Brief Electricity and Magnetism Assessment (BEMA)

Developed by Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood

Purpose To assess students’ qualitative understanding of basic concepts in electricity and magnetism.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice
Duration 45 min
Focus Electricity / Magnetism Content knowledge (circuits, electrostatics, magnetic fields and forces)
Level Upper-level, Intro college
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Sample questions from the BEMA:
BEMA Sample Question

BEMA Implementation and Troubleshooting Guide

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L. Ding, R. Chabay, B. Sherwood, and R. Beichner, Evaluating an electricity and magnetism assessment tool: Brief electricity and magnetism assessment, Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 2 (1), 7 (2006).
RESEARCH VALIDATION
Gold Star Validation
This is the highest level of research validation, corresponding to all seven 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 BEMA were developed using student reponses to open-ended versions of the questions and expert review. Appropriate statistical analyses were conducted and the difficulty of the items was found to be in the optimal range, most individual items on the BEMA are able to satisfactorily distinguish students who know the material well from those who don’t and almost all were found to be consistent with the rest of the test. The total scores on the BEMA were found to be broadly distributed over the possible range, meaning that the BEMA as a whole has can discriminate well between students. The BEMA has been used to compare the effectiveness of different teaching methods and the results published in peer-reviewed publications. It has been administered at many different institutions.

References

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Language Translator(s)  
Spanish Genaro Zavala, Julio Benegas, Olivier Espinosa, and Hugo Alarcon

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Typical Results

Typical results from studies at two universities in calculus-based introductory physics courses using different teaching methods from Pollock 2007 and Kohlmeyer et. al 2009.

Course Type Pre ± std. err. (n) Post ± std. err. (n) ‹g› ± std. err. (n)
Interactive Engagement1 26% ± 1% (1584) 56% ± 2% (1845) 40% ± 2% (1845)
Matter & Interactions2 26% ± 2% (321) 58% ± 3% (612) 43% ± 2% (612)
Traditional2 25% ± 2% (1319) 46% ± 3% (1246) 30% ± 1% (1246)

1= Pollock 2007, 2= Kohlmeyer 2009


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The latest version of the BEMA, released in 1997, is version 1.

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