Validation and structural analysis of the kinematics concept test

A. Lichtenberger, C. Wagner, S. I. Hofer, E. Stern, A. Vaterlaus

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19 Citations (Scopus)


The kinematics concept test (KCT) is a multiple-choice test designed to evaluate students' conceptual understanding of kinematics at the high school level. The test comprises 49 multiple-choice items about velocity and acceleration, which are based on seven kinematic concepts and which make use of three different representations. In the first part of this article we describe the development and the validation process of the KCT. We applied the KCT to 338 Swiss high school students who attended traditional teaching in kinematics. We analyzed the response data to provide the psychometric properties of the test. In the second part we present the results of a structural analysis of the test. An exploratory factor analysis of 664 student answers finally uncovered the seven kinematics concepts as factors. However, the analysis revealed a hierarchical structure of concepts. At the higher level, mathematical concepts group together, and then split up into physics concepts at the lower level. Furthermore, students who seem to understand a concept in one representation have difficulties transferring the concept to similar problems in another representation. Both results have implications for teaching kinematics. First, teaching mathematical concepts beforehand might be beneficial for learning kinematics. Second, instructions have to be designed to teach students the change between different representations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number010115
JournalPhysical Review Physics Education Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2017

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