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Freshman Engineering’ Reasoning Strategies When Answering FCI Questions: A Case Study


Force Concept Inventory (FCI) is a questionnaire commonly used to assess students’ conceptual understanding of Newtonian Mechanics. We show that Cluster Analysis methods can be used to study student answers to FCI by finding their reasoning strategies on Newtonian Mechanics. Our analysis is performed to data obtained by a sample of freshman engineering students just at the beginning of their first General Physics course. The analysis takes into account the decomposition of the force concept into the conceptual dimensions suggested by test authors and successive researches. We identified groups of students with similar answering strategies, characterised by correct answers, as well as by non-correct answers showing student misconceptions/nonnormative conceptions. Such answering strategies give insights into the relationships between the student force concepts and their ability to describe and/or explain motions.