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Rachel publishes two papers about modified module analysis

Rachel publishes two papers about modified module analysis in Physical Review Physics Education Research: Extending modified module analysis to include correct responses: Analysis of the Force Concept Inventory & Exploring the structure of misconceptions in the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation with modified module analysis.

Extending modified module analysis to include correct responses: Analysis of the Force Concept Inventory

Abstract: Brewe, Bruun, and Bearden first applied network analysis to understand patterns of incorrect conceptual physics reasoning in multiple-choice instruments introducing the module analysis for multiple-choice responses (MAMCR) algorithm. Wells et al. proposed an extension to the algorithm which allowed the analysis of large datasets called modified module analysis (MMA). This method analyzed the network structure of the correlation matrix of the responses to a multiple-choice instrument. Both MAMCR and MMA could only be applied to networks of incorrect responses. In this study, an extension of MMA is explored which allows the analysis of networks involving both correct and incorrect responses. The extension analyzes the network structure of the partial correlation matrix instead of the correlation matrix. The new algorithm, called MMA-P, was applied to the FCI and recovered much of the structure identified by MMA. The algorithm also identified sets of correct answers requiring similar physical reasoning reported in previous studies. Beyond groups of all correct and all incorrect responses, some groups of responses which mixed correct and incorrect responses were also identified. Some of these mixed response groups were produced when a correct response was selected for incorrect reasons; some of the groups were related to the gender unfair items previously reported for the FCI.

Exploring the structure of misconceptions in the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation with modified module analysis

Abstract: Investigating student learning and understanding of conceptual physics is a primary research area within physics education research. Multiple quantitative methods have been employed to analyze commonly used mechanics conceptual inventories: the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) and the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE). Recently, researchers have applied network analytic techniques to explore the structure of the incorrect responses to the FCI identifying communities of incorrect responses which could be mapped on to common misconceptions. In this study, the method used to analyze the FCI, modified module analysis was applied to a large sample of FMCE pretest and post-test responses (Npre=3956, Npost=3719). The communities of incorrect responses identified were consistent with the item groups described in previous works. As in the work with the FCI, the network was simplified by only retaining nodes selected by a substantial number of students. Retaining as nodes only those incorrect answer choices selected by at least 20% of the students produced communities associated with only four misconceptions. The incorrect response communities identified for men and women were substantially different, as was the change in these communities from pretest to post-test. The 20% threshold was far more restrictive than the 4% threshold applied to the FCI in the prior work that generated similar structures. Retaining nodes selected by 5% or 10% of students generated a large number of complex communities. The communities identified at the 10% threshold were generally associated with common misconceptions producing a far richer set of incorrect communities than the FCI; this may indicate that the FMCE is a superior instrument for characterizing the breadth of student misconceptions about Newtonian mechanics.

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