Mechanical waves conceptual survey: Its modification and conversion to a standard multiple-choice test Academic Article in Scopus uri icon


  • In this article we present several modifications of the mechanical waves conceptual survey, the most important test to date that has been designed to evaluate university students¿ understanding of four main topics in mechanical waves: propagation, superposition, reflection, and standing waves. The most significant changes are (i) modification of several test questions that had some problems in their original design, (ii) standardization of the number of options for each question to five, (iii) conversion of the two-tier questions to multiple-choice questions, and (iv) modification of some questions to make them independent of others. To obtain a final version of the test, we administered both the original and modified versions several times to students at a large private university in Mexico. These students were completing a course that covers the topics tested by the survey. The final modified version of the test was administered to 234 students. In this study we present the modifications for each question, and discuss the reasons behind them. We also analyze the results obtained by the final modified version and offer a comparison between the original and modified versions. In the Supplemental Material we present the final modified version of the test. It can be used by teachers and researchers to assess students¿ understanding of, and learning about, mechanical waves.

Publication date

  • January 1, 2016