Standardized Testing in Physics via the World Wide Web

  • Dan MacIsaac
  • Rebecca Pollard Cole
  • David M. Cole
  • Laura McCullough
  • Jim Maxka
Keywords: Science, Education, Physics, Testing


On-line web-based technologies provide students with the opportunity to complete assessment instruments from personal computers with internet access. The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in paper-based and web-based administrations of a commonly used assessment instrument, the Force Concept Inventory (FCI). Results demonstrated no appreciable difference on FCI scores or FCI items based on the type of administration. A 4 way ANOVA (N = 376) demonstrated expected differences in FCI scores due to different sections of the same sections, different courses and gender. However, none of these differences was influenced by the type of test administration. Similarly, FCI student scores were comparable with respect to both test reliability and predictive validity. For individual FCI items, paper-based and web-based comparisons were made by examining potential differences in item means and by examining potential differences in response patterns. Chi Squares demonstrated no differences in response patterns and t Tests demonstrated no differences in item means between paper-based and web-based administrations. In summary, the web-based administration of the Force Concept Inventory appears to be as efficacious as the paper-based administration.

Author Biographies

Dan MacIsaac
Northern Arizona University
Rebecca Pollard Cole
Northern Arizona Center for Excellence in Education
David M. Cole
Northern Arizona University
Laura McCullough
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Jim Maxka
Northern Arizona University