Magnetism Conceptual Survey (MCS)

Developed by Chandralekha Singh and Jing Li

Purpose To assess difficulties introductory students have with magnetism concepts.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice
Duration 50 min
Focus Electricity / Magnetism Content knowledge (magnetic fields and forces, Faraday's law)
Level Intro college, High school
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Sample questions from the MCS:

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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 MCS were developed based on instructional objective, cognitive complexity and expert input. Questions were refined through student interviews and free-response answers, which were also used to create multiple-choice answer choices. The multiple-choice questions were further refined through expert review and student interviews. Over 800 students in algebra and calculus-based introductory courses took the MCS, appropriate statistical analyses of reliability, difficulty, discrimination and internal consistency were conducted, and values found to be above acceptable threshold. Analysis of possible gender bias was conducted, and none was found for algebra-based courses but a significant gender difference was found in both regular and honors calculus-based courses on the post-tests.


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Typical Results

At University of Pittsburg, the average score of the algebra-based courses (n=267) was 24% on the pre-test and 41% on the post-test. In the calculus-based courses (n=575), the average pre-test score was 28% and post-test score was 49% (Li and Singh 2017).

The latest version of the MCS, released in 2012, is version 1.