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A Center for Engineering Education Research (CEER) Seminar ,April 11 ,2014

posted Apr 8, 2014, 6:49 AM by Kathy Dehshiri   [ updated Apr 8, 2014, 6:57 AM ]

Developing An Instrument For Assessing Students’ Understanding

Of The Energy Concept Across Science Disciplines


Mihwa Park, PhD


Post-doctoral Research Candidate for the 
Automated Analysis of Constructed Response (AACR) Research Group


Friday, April 11, 2014

11:00 – 12:00

3540 Engineering


 Energy is a core and unifying concept across all science disciplines and grade levels. Although energy is one of the most central and richly connected ideas in science, students often have a great deal of difficulty in understanding it. There is a need to know how students demonstrate their understanding of the energy concept across different disciplinary contexts to help inform curricular decisions. The purpose of this study is to develop and validate an instrument for assessing students’ understanding of the energy concept across the different science disciplines. In the process of completing this project, the Inter-Disciplinary Energy concept Assessment (IDEA) was developed through a pilot-test, consisting of forty-nine items presented in pairs: multiple choice and open-ended justification questions. The IDEA was administered to 356 college students recruited as whole classes taught in three states in the United States in order to assess understanding of the energy concept. The partial credit Rasch model was applied to the field test data to establish evidence for validity and reliability of the IDEA. Results showed that the IDEA can produce reliable and valid measures of student understanding of the energy concept. Other significant results were found through the administration of the IDEA in terms of item difficulty across content areas, disciplines, and aspects of the energy concept.  Results suggest that there is no universal order to difficulty in understanding of energy aspects across all age groups of students, especially for more advanced students, indicating that item difficulties of energy aspects were compounded by specific science discipline contents. The results of this study contribute new knowledge on the contextualized nature of energy understanding and inform future research on learning progressions in energy. 


Mihwa Park is a recent graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo with her PhD in science education.  She taught science at the middle and high school level in South Korea and completed Masters degrees at Seoul National University prior to coming to the United States to complete her doctoral degree.  Her research interests include science teacher reflective thinking and their knowledge development and developing measurement instruments in the STEM fields.  Her dissertation involved the creation and development of the Inter-Disciplinary Energy Assessment (IDEA) through the application of Rasch modeling.


Post-doc lunch

We would like to invite any current DBER post-docs to join Mihwa for lunch after the talk from 12-1to share your experiences as post-docs at MSU with her.  If you would like to participate, please RSVP to Mary Pease  by 5 PM Thursday so we can order food.