Concept Inventories and Dan Meyer’s Linear Modeling Exercise

I’ve talked a bit in the past about good concept inventory questions — questions that address difficult conceptual questions but have black and white answers and don’t require any special vocabulary to answer.

Dan Meyer’s Linear Modeling exercise [PDF] is a good example. The first question has a specific answer, and answering it requires the right set of intuitions about linear processes, but it doesn’t matter what terms you are using, and the student does not need to intuit what you are trying to assess to get it right. 

I’ll add the exercise has one other mark of a great inventory question — apart from the title, it contains no hints that this is an application of linear modeling. This jives with what we know from processes like interleaving — that the decision of which model to apply is as important as the model itself. 

One final thing — I can’t help to notice that like many ConceptTests and like many questions on the FCI it is a prediction question. There’s something very powerful about prediction in the way it focuses the mind. More on that later.

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