Task Templates Based on Misconception Research (Padi Technical Report 6)


Cromley, J., & Mislevy, R. (2005). Task templates based on misconception research (PADI Technical Report 6). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.


Researchers spend much time and effort developing assessments, including assessments of students’ conceptual knowledge. In an effort to make such assessments easier to design, the Principled Assessment Designs for Inquiry (PADI) project has developed a framework for designing tasks and accompanying measurement models. One application of the PADI framework involves “reverse engineering” existing science assessments. This paper reports one such effort, motivated by assessments that elicit students’ qualitative explanations of situations that have been designed to provoke misconceptions and partial understandings. We describe four task-specific templates we created—three based on Hestenes, Wells, and Swackhamer’s (1992) Force Concept Inventory and one based on Novick and Nussbaums’s (1981) Test about Particles in a Gas (TAP). We then describe an overarching framework for these templates, another PADI object called a design pattern, based on Stewart’s concept of “Model Using.” For each template, we describe a multivariate Student Model, a Measurement Model, and a Task Model. We conclude by suggesting how these templates and the design pattern could help researchers (and perhaps teachers) who wish to design new assessments in science domains where students are known to hold misconceptions.

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