Exploring Student Understanding of Force and Motion Using a Simulation-Based Performance Assessment

  • Jessica Gale Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Jayma Koval Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Stefanie Wind
  • Mike Ryan
  • Marion Usselman


Performance assessment (PA) has been increasingly advocated as a method for measuring students’ conceptual understanding of scientific phenomena. In this study, we describe preliminary findings of a simulation- based PA utilized to measure 8th grade students’ understanding of physical science concepts taught via an experimental problem-based curriculum, SLIDER (Science Learning Integrating Design Engineering and Robotics). In SLIDER, students use LEGO robotics to complete a series of investigations and engineering design challenges designed to deepen their understanding of key force and motion concepts (net force, acceleration, friction, balanced forces, and inertia). The simulation-based performance assessment consisted of 4 tasks in which students engaged with video simulations illustrating physical science concepts aligned to the SLIDER curriculum. The performance assessment was administered to a stratified sample of 8th grade students (N=24) in one school prior to and following implementation of the SLIDER curriculum. In addition to providing an illustration of the use of simulation- based performance assessment in the context of design-based implementation research (DBIR), the results of the study indicate preliminary evidence of student learning over the course of curriculum implementation.

How to Cite
Gale, J., Koval, J., Wind, S., Ryan, M., & Usselman, M. (2016). Exploring Student Understanding of Force and Motion Using a Simulation-Based Performance Assessment. Journal of Research in STEM Education, 2(1), 39-58. Retrieved from https://j-stem.net/index.php/jstem/article/view/21