- What does the test measure?
- What courses is this test appropriate for?
- When would I administer this test?
- How was the test arrived at?
- Is there background literature on the test?
The test measures the ability of a student to use fundamental concepts of Statics to answer questions. It is a multiple-choice test that involves conceptual reasoning, but no significant computation. There are 27 questions, which comprise 9 distinct concepts. These concepts include: free body diagrams, equilibrium, static equivalence, and the directions of forces between bodies that contact or connect in various ways.
The test is appropriate for Statics courses, for courses which have Statics as a pre-requisite, such as Dynamics and Mechanics of Materials, and for more advanced mechanics, structures or machine design classes.
You should administer the test at the end of the course, or preferably shortly before the end. If you administer the test before the end of the class, you and your students can have the results back and use them for remedial discussions of the questions. Some instructors also wish to have students take the test at the beginning of the course, to establish a baseline of understanding. However, for most schools, the distribution of scores at the beginning of statics is similar to random guessing, and so the data are rarely valuable.
Courses that follow-on from Statics
The test should be given as near as possible to the beginning of the semester. For these courses, one is looking to gauge the level of understanding of students as they start the course. Based on the test results, you can decide if remedial discussions or assignments are appropriate.
Field studies of errors that students typically make in Statics were conducted. The errors were analyzed and categorized into consistent types, with a focus on conceptual errors, rather than errors of computation. Finally, a set of fundamental concept clusters was derived and articulated. Test questions were devised that address many aspects of these concepts. The wrong answers on the questions were intentionally chosen to coincide with typical errors committed by students.
A paper summarizing the studies of typical errors and articulating the fundamental concepts and errors in Statics is: Statics Concepts paper for FIE 2004.pdf
A paper describing the origin of the test, its organization (2003-2004 version), and initial results of using the test at several universities is: Statics Concept Inventory Steif Dantzler.pdf
A paper with more detailed psychometric analyses based on a larger set of results (2004-2005 version), including comparisons with class performance in Statics is: Statics Concept Inventory Steif Hansen.pdf