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Measuring students’ conceptual understanding of wave optics: A Rasch modeling approach.
Mešić, V., Neumann, K., Aviani, I., Hasović, E., Boone, W. J., Erceg, N.,..., Repnik, R.

Measuring students’ conceptual understanding of wave optics: A Rasch modeling approach.

Physical Review Physics Education Research, 15(1), 1-20. [010115]. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.15.010115, Open Access

Even graduate physics students have many misconceptions about basic wave optics phenomena. This suggests that there is much room for improvement of the traditional wave optics curriculum. An effective way for initiating a curriculum change is to reconsider and revise the expected learning outcomes and corresponding assessment instruments. By systematically enriching our wave optics instruction and assessment with conceptual tasks, we may increase the probability of students actively engaging in learning the conceptual aspects of wave optics. In this paper, we present the process of developing an item bank for measuring understanding of wave optics in typical introductory physics courses at universities. Thereby, the Rasch modeling approach has been used. The development of the item bank has been guided by results from multiple expert and student surveys, as well as from group interviews and think aloud interviews. Altogether 65 multiple-choice items with a single correct answer and three distractors have been prepared for field testing. Until now, 35 out of 65 items have been field tested by means of a paper and pencil survey which included 188 participants from five universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia. The field test showed that 32 out of 35 items have good psychometric characteristics and that they may be very useful for uncovering students’ misconceptions in wave optics.