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Review of Research in Student Conception Studies and Concept Inventories: Exploring PER Threads Relevant to Ugandan Context

Kent Robert Kirya
Kalarattu Kandiyil Mashood
Lakhan Lal Yadav


This paper is motivated by some of the problems and challenges in physics education faced in the Ugandan context. It has been reported by the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) that the percentage of students passing in physics is below twenty per cent at distinction and credit level. Students turn to problematic and counterproductive learning approaches such as rote learning and memorisation of problem-solving steps. That refers to a shortage of high-quality teacher education programs and a reliance on traditional pedagogies such as lecture approaches. The paper focuses on student conception studies, associated frameworks and their compatibility with constructivism. The debate then shifts to physics concept inventories, their impact on physics teaching, and their relevance in Ugandan education. In Ugandan schools, educational assessment is now done mostly through conventional examinations. The use of alternative forms of assessment that have not yet been used, such as CIs, observations, active learning, and multi-teacher rating, was advocated due to a deficiency in the practice of continuous assessment in the Ugandan education system. The focus of this paper is on concept inventories as an assessment and diagnostic tool that takes into account insights from students’ conception studies.