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Force Concept Inventory
Learning progressions
Newton’s Laws
Physics education
Rasch modeling
Science education
Issue Date: 
Fulmer, G. W. (2014). Validating proposed learning progressions on force and motion using the force concept inventory: Findings from Singapore secondary schools. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 13(6), 1235-1254.
This study examines the validity of two proposed learning progressions on the force concept when tested using items from the Force Concept Inventory (FCI). This is the first study to compare students’ performance with respect to learning progressions both for force and motion and for Newton’s Third Law in parallel. It is also among the first studies on learning progressions within an East Asian context. Data come from 174 Singaporean secondary students who completed the FCI during regular school time. FCI questions are coded as ordered multiple-choice items based on the respective learning progressions, and responses are analyzed using a partial-credit Rasch measurement model. Results show that FCI items had moderate data-model fit, demonstrate the expected pattern of difficulty among levels of the learning progressions. However, scale reliability and fit for the thresholds between levels showed limitations. The students’ ability estimates for Newton's Third law were higher than for force and motion, contrary to expectation about the relationship between the two aspects of force. The paper discusses the connection of these results with the curriculum, and implications for learning progressions for the force concept. Directions for future research on instruments for use with learning progressions are also discussed.
This is the final draft, after peer-review, of a manuscript published in International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. The published version is available online at
1571-0068 (print)
1573-1774 (online)
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