Monday, June 25, 2012

In Defense of Pre/Post Testing With Concept Inventories

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent discussion-list post “In Defense of Pre/Post Testing With Concept Inventories” [Hake (2012)]. The abstract reads:

Bruce Sherwood and Paul Camp, in recent posts on the “Physics Education Research Topical Group” (PERTG) discussion list, denigrate pre/post testing with concept inventories, typifying a trend in some physics education research circles to discount such practice as naive and useless.

I think such sentiment betrays an ignorance of the history of PER. In “Lessons from the Physics Education Reform Effort” [Hake (2002)] at I wrote:

“For more than three decades, physics education researchers have repeatedly shown that traditional introductory physics courses with passive student lectures, recipe labs, and algorithmic problem exams are of limited value in enhancing students’ conceptual understanding of the subject. Unfortunately, this work was largely ignored by the physics and education communities until Halloun and Hestenes (1985a,b) devised the Mechanics Diagnostic test of conceptual understanding of Newtonian mechanics.”

For a review of pre/post testing with concept inventories in physics and engineering see “The Impact of Concept Inventories On Physics Education and It’s Relevance For Engineering Education” [Hake (2011)] at (8.5 MB).

To access the complete 12 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles:
Links to SDI Labs:

"He who knows only his own generation
Remains always a child."
- Cicero (in Orator)

REFERENCES [URL shortened by and accessed on 25 June 2012.
Hake, R.R. 2012. “In Defense of Pre/Post Testing With Concept Inventories,” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at Post of 25 Jun 2012 12:31:15-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being transmitted to several discussion lists.

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