Scientific Reasoning & Physics Conceptual Gains


In one data set, consisting of 98 students, we see a significant correlation between the reasoning test scores and the normalized gains on the FCI. These students were in 6 different courses, with 4 different instructors, using different interactive techniques. (Three of the courses were summer sections with less than 10 students each.)



The average Lawson Test score for these students is 67%.

Loosely, scores above 75% represent students who are formal operational, and 40- 75% are transitional.



There is a significant correlation between the scientific reasoning scores and gains shown on the FCI (r=0.54, p<0.0001).

Students who scored in the lowest quartile on the LT had an average FCI gain of 0.26, while those in the highest quartile had an average gain of 0.67.

This correlation has been seen at several other institutions (high school and college) since our initial publication1.


  1. V.P. Coletta and J. A. Phillips, "Interpreting FCI Scores: Normalized gain, pre-instruction scores and scientific reasoning ability" Am. J. Phys., 73, 1172 (2005)