Can dual processing theory explain physics students' performance on the Force Concept Inventory?

Anna K. Wood*, Ross K. Galloway, Judy Hardy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

According to dual processing theory there are two types, or modes, of thinking: system 1, which involves intuitive and nonreflective thinking, and system 2, which is more deliberate and requires conscious effort and thought. The Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) is a widely used and robust three item instrument that measures the tendency to override system 1 thinking and to engage in reflective, system 2 thinking. Each item on the CRT has an intuitive (but wrong) answer that must be rejected in order to answer the item correctly. We therefore hypothesized that performance on the CRT may give useful insights into the cognitive processes involved in learning physics, where success involves rejecting the common, intuitive ideas about the world (often called misconceptions) and instead carefully applying physical concepts. This paper presents initial results from an ongoing study examining the relationship between students' CRT scores and their performance on the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), which tests students' understanding of Newtonian mechanics. We find that a higher CRT score predicts a higher FCI score for both precourse and postcourse tests. However, we also find that the FCI normalized gain is independent of CRT score. The implications of these results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023101
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical review physics education research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2016

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