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The Development of a Content Assessment of Basic Electronics Knowledge STEM CPS

Steinberg, Jonathan; Andrews-Todd, Jessica; Forsyth, Carolyn; Chamberlain, John; Horwitz, Paul; Koon, Al; Rupp, Andre A.; McCulla, Laura
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Electronics, Pretest, Engineering, Simulation, Task Analysis, College Undergraduates, Psychometric Analysis, Group Differences, Demographic Characteristics, Institutional Characteristics, Collaboration, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Content Knowledge, Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS)


This study discusses the development of a basic electronics knowledge (BEK) assessment as a pretest activity for undergraduate students in engineering and related fields. The 28 BEK items represent 12 key concepts, including properties of serial circuits, knowledge of electrical laws (e.g., Kirchhoff’s and Ohm’s laws), and properties of digital multimeters. This paper first discusses a psychometric evaluation of the BEK assessment to understand its basic measurement properties and to examine various group-level differences based on demographic, institutional, and instructor characteristics. Subsequently, the relationship between BEK scores on the 23 retained items and performance on an existing complex collaborative simulation-based electronics task is discussed. Results demonstrated that basic content knowledge alone may not be sufficient for students to demonstrate knowledge of electronics skills onmore complex tasks. The research also carries great importance given ongoing concerns about improving the overall state and diversity of the engineering workforce and its associated pipeline to meet the demands of the national economy.

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