2 School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, 9 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 and Department of Physics, Harvard University, 9 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
We measured the time taken by students to respond to individual Force Concept Inventory (FCI) questions. We examine response time differences between correct and incorrect answers, both before and after instruction. We also determine the relation between response time and expressed confidence. Our data reveal three results of interest. First, response times are longer for incorrect answers than for correct ones, indicating that distractors are not automatic choices. Second, response times increase after instruction for both correct and incorrect answers, supporting the notion that instruction changes students' approach to conceptual questions. Third, response times are inversely related to students' expressed confidence; the lower their confidence, the longer it takes to respond.
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-0716902. The authors thank D. van Wieren for assisting with the data analysis, Jason Dowd, Orad Reshef, and Kevin Vora for their help with the editing process, and Brian Frank for his input on an early version of the manuscript. N.L. would also like to thank Howard Gardner for helpful discussions.
Article outline: I. INTRODUCTION II. METHODS III. RESULTS IV. DISCUSSION A. Incorrect answers take more time B. Posttest takes more time C. Response time decreases with increased confidence V. CONCLUSIONS
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