
Goal
The goal is to produce a set of simple multiplechoice tests that will (a) reveal student misunderstanding of circuit theory concepts prior to taking the circuits courses and (b) measure student gains in understanding of circuit theory concepts upon completion of the courses. The exams will thus serve as assessment tools to be used in the continuous improvementofcurriculum feedback loop.
For more information or to obtain copies of the circuits concept inventories (CCIs), please contact or , Electrical Engineering Department, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD).
Typical Student Background
The typical student entering the first circuits course will already have taken
 two semesters of calculus
 two semesters of physics
 two semesters of freshman engineering
Secondsemester physics topics related to circuit theory include
 electric fields
 magnetic fields
 flux
 electric potential
 elementary DC circuits
 elementary AC circuits
Secondsemester freshman engineering topics related to circuit theory include
 elementary DC circuits
 elementary AC circuits

Circuit Theory Concepts
Concepts addressed by the CCI exams as of 1/20/03 include
 Basic switch connections (1 question)
 Series/parallel equivalent components (6 questions
 Current and voltage conservation laws (4 questions)
 Voltage and current dividers (4 questions)
 Response of firstorder circuits (8 questions)
 Characteristic parameters of AC signals (10 questions)
 Dependent sources (2 questions)
 Impulse response (1 question)
 Time domain and sdomain signals (1 question)
 Frequency response (2 questions)
 Resonance (2 questions)
 Fourier series (2 questions)
(Total: 43 questions)
Future versions will also include
 Thevenin/Norton equivalents
 Superposition
 Node and Mesh analysis
 Complex numbers
 Coupled inductors
 Phasors
 Poles and zeros
 Response of secondorder circuits
 Convolution
 Threephase power

CCI Development Process and
Lessons Learned
Principle developers and met together with three graduate students to brainstorm potential CCI questions. CCI topics were determined from the circuit theory I and II course catalog descriptions, and three CCI exams were developed over the fall 2001/spring 2002 semesters.
The exams were given to circuittheory classes at UMD during the summer and fall 2002 terms. Upon analyzing the results, we discovered some flaws in the CCI design:
 Many of the questions were deliberately made to have multiple correct answers, e.g., a question with choices a–d having b–d, all as correct responses. This made statistical analysis of the data more challenging because of the large assortment of partially correct responses.
 The total number of choices (right plus wrong answers) per question varied from 3 to 6, i.e., a–c to a–f. This also complicated the data analysis, e.g., we could not quickly interpret a 25% score as being equivalent to random guessing, which would be the case if all questions had exactly four choices.
Revised versions of the CCI, to be given at UMD in the spring 2003 term, have exactly four choices per question, with only one of the choices being correct.


References for Further Information

Hestenes, David, Malcolm Wells, and Gregg Swackhamer (1992). Force Concept Inventory. The Physics Teacher, 30 (3), 141151

Hestenes, David, and Ibrahim Halloun (1995). Interpreting the Force Concept Inventory. The Physics Teacher, 33 (8)

Halloun, Ibrahim and David Hestenes (1985). The initial knowledge state of college physics students. American Journal of Physics, 53(11), 10431055

Halloun, Ibrahim and David Hestenes (1985). Common sense concepts about motion. American Journal of Physics, 53(11), 10561065

D. L. Evans and David Hestenes, "The Concept of the Concept Inventory Assessment Instrument," Proceedings, Frontiers in Education Conference, Reno, NV, USA
 Evans, D.L., Midkiff, C., Miller, R., Morgan, J., Krause, S., Martin, J., Notaros, B.M., Rancour, D., and Wage, K. (2002). Tools for Assessing Conceptual Understanding in the Engineering Sciences, Proceedings, Frontiers in Education Conference, Boston, USA
 Evans, D.L., Gray, G.L.., Krause, S.J., Martin, J.K.., Midkiff, C., Notaros, B.M., Pavelich, M., Rancour, D., ReedRhoads, T., Steif, P., Streveler, R., Wage, K.E. (2003). Progress on Concept Inventory Assessment Tools, Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.
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