School level

# Diagnostic Questions in Science

The following questions are taken from a larger bank of diagnostic questions and tasks developed by the Evidence based Practice in Science Education (EPSE) Research Network. The EPSE network was funded between 1999 and 2003 by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP).

Note: These questions are available to teachers for any non-commercial use only. Authorship and copyright is held by the University of York.

### Electric Circuits - Diagnostic Questions Set 1

https://www.scoilnet.ieuploads/resources/26176/25912.pdf Added: 29 Mar 2018 Contributor: Scoilnet Resource type: Assessment / Worksheet

These questions all probe pupils’ understandings of very basic ideas about electric circuits, in particular the idea of a circuit itself – the need for a closed loop of conducting material from one terminal of the battery, through all the components and back to the other terminal of the battery. We have found that more pupils have difficulty with Q4 than with the others here. Similarly in Q7, bulb 3 is likely to be the most difficult part – again exploring the same situation. These might be circuits that are worth letting pupils explore practically (ask them to predict what will happen, and then try it out to see what does happen).
Qs8-9 test understanding of the difference between conductors and insulators and basic ideas about a closed circuit loop. There is no point in asking these until pupils are secure with the earlier ones.
Q10 tests a different basic idea – that the order of objects in a series circuit makes no difference to how they work.

JC Science

#### How it maps to the curriculum

JC
Science

Strand: 4. Physical World

Strand unit: 5. Simple Electronic Circuits

Suggestions for use: Authorship and copyright is held by the University of York. These questions are available to teachers for any non-commercial use.

Asset type: Document
Language: English
Special Needs:

### Electric Current - Diagnostic Questions Set 2

https://www.scoilnet.ieuploads/resources/26179/25915.pdf Added: 29 Mar 2018 Contributor: Scoilnet Resource type: Assessment / Worksheet

These questions all probe pupils’ understanding of the idea of electric current – as a ‘conserved’ quantity, i.e. as something which goes round an electric circuit but is used up as it goes. The questions explore this idea in several contexts, with different components in the circuit. It is easy to make more questions of the same sort, by changing the components (e.g. from a bulb to a resistor or motor, or vice versa), or changing the way the current is ‘measured’ (e.g. from asking about the size of the current at a point to asking about the reading on an ammeter).
Qs1-8 ask about observable phenomena. These questions all have a two-tier format which we have found useful for probing pupils’ ability to predict what will be observed but also to choose the best explanation for this. If a pupil gets both tiers right it is unlikely that their answer is a guess.
Qs9-10 then ask about pupils’ ‘mental models’ of what is going on. It is interesting to see if these are consistent with their predictions and explanations in the earlier ones.

JC Science

#### How it maps to the curriculum

JC
Science

Strand: 4. Physical World

Strand unit: 3. Relationships between Physical Observables

Strand: 4. Physical World

Strand unit: 5. Simple Electronic Circuits

Asset type: Document
Language: English
Special Needs:

### Circuit Behaviour - Diagnostic Questions Set 3

These questions probe pupils’ understanding of the behaviour of simple electric circuits. Most are about series circuits, and check that pupils understand the relationships between the battery voltage and the current, and between the resistance in the circuit and the current. We have found Q5 in this set poses particular problems for pupils – many of whom think that one ammeter reading will decrease but the other will stay the same. (This really goes back to their understanding of current as a ‘conserved’ quantity in a series circuit.)
Qs7-10 probe understanding of the effect of adding a resistor in series or parallel to one already present. We have found that very few pupils can answer correctly about the parallel combinations; they seem not to ‘see’ this as providing an additional route for current, thus making the resistance less (and the current from the battery bigger). This is a point worth drawing attention to in teaching – having a ‘picture’ in your mind of what is going on is likely to be more useful than trying to remember the ‘rules’!

JC Science

#### How it maps to the curriculum

JC
Science

Strand: 4. Physical World

Strand unit: 5. Simple Electronic Circuits

Suggestions for use: Authorship and copyright is held by the University of York. These questions are available to teachers for any non-commercial use.

Asset type: Document
Language: English
Special Needs:

### Potential Difference - Diagnostic Questions Set 4

https://www.scoilnet.ieuploads/resources/26183/25919.pdf Added: 29 Mar 2018 Contributor: Scoilnet Resource type: Assessment / Worksheet

Most of these questions probe pupils’ understanding of potential difference (or voltage) in parallel and series circuits. Qs1-4 all test understanding that the p.d. (voltage) across resistors connected in parallel to a battery is the same as that of the battery.
Qs 5-6 then test understanding that the current in a parallel branch is the same as it would be if this were the only branch present.
Qs 7-8 test understanding of branch currents, and current in the main circuit, when an extra parallel branch is added.
Qs9-10 deal with series circuits, testing understanding of how p.d. (voltage) behaves.

JC Science
SC Physics

#### How it maps to the curriculum

JC
Science

Strand: 4. Physical World

Strand unit: 3. Relationships between Physical Observables

Suggestions for use: Authorship and copyright is held by the University of York. These questions are available to teachers for any non-commercial use.

Strand: 4. Physical World

Strand unit: 5. Simple Electronic Circuits

Suggestions for use: Authorship and copyright is held by the University of York. These questions are available to teachers for any non-commercial use.

SC
Physics

Strand: 07. Electricity

Strand unit: 04. Electric Current

Suggestions for use: Authorship and copyright is held by the University of York. These questions are available to teachers for any non-commercial use.

Asset type: Document
Language: English
Special Needs:

### Identifying Forces - Diagnostic Questions Set 5

https://www.scoilnet.ieuploads/resources/26180/25916.pdf Added: 29 Mar 2018 Contributor: Scoilnet Resource type: Assessment / Worksheet

These questions all probe pupils’ ability to identify the separate forces acting in simple situations, where things are being pushed or pulled.
Q1 begins with a situation where the cause of the forces is obvious. In Qs2-4, ‘invisible’ forces like friction, gravity and reaction of a surface are involved, making these slightly harder.
Qs5-6 are about labelling marked forces; here the emphasis is on being clear about what is exerting the force and what it is acting on. In analysing any example of motion, it is essential to be able to recognise clearly which object each force is acting on, so that you can add up all the forces acting on a given object to predict (or explain) how it moves.
Qs7-10 seem similar to the earlier ones, but have an important difference which makes them
more challenging. These all require the pupil to recognise that all forces come in pairs, so that
if a person pulls an object, he or she also experiences a force exerted by the object, in the
opposite direction.

JC Science

#### How it maps to the curriculum

JC
Science

Strand: 4. Physical World

Strand unit: 2. SI Units of Measurement:Measure/Calculate

Suggestions for use: Authorship and copyright is held by the University of York. These questions are available to teachers for any non-commercial use.

Asset type: Document
Language: English
Special Needs:

### Force and Motion - Diagnostic Questions Set 6

https://www.scoilnet.ieuploads/resources/26178/25914.pdf Added: 29 Mar 2018 Contributor: Scoilnet Resource type: Assessment / Worksheet

These questions all probe pupils’ understanding of the connection between forces and motion.
Qs1-3 look at a simplified model of the forces on a car when it is speeding up, going at a steady speed, and slowing down. Of these, pupils are likely to find Q1 the easiest, and Q2 the most difficult -–with many wanting to indicate a net force forwards to maintain the steady speed. These three questions all ask about total force as well as the individual forces, allowing you to check if pupils’ answers to the two parts of each question are consistent.
Q4 also probes the same ideas, but in a different and unfamiliar situation.
Qs5-7 probe another situation that pupils find difficult to analyse in terms of forces acting – an object that has been set in motion but is now slowing down. Again many choose to mark a force in the direction of motion. Questions like these are very good for group discussion, prior to a class discussion.
Qs8-9 probe understanding that, in the absence of external forces, an object travels in a straight line. Many pupils think (wrongly) that circular motion will persist, to some extent at least.
Q10 is another good small group discussion question, bringing together all the key ideas about how forces can explain motion, and the ‘at rest’ situation.

JC Science

#### How it maps to the curriculum

JC
Science

Strand: 4. Physical World

Strand unit: 3. Relationships between Physical Observables

Asset type: Document
Special Needs:

### Matter and Change - Diagnostic Questions Set 7

https://www.scoilnet.ieuploads/resources/26181/25917.pdf Added: 29 Mar 2018 Contributor: Scoilnet Resource type: Assessment / Worksheet

Probe pupils’ ideas about matter and change (physical and chemical) with these diagnostic questions.
Qs1-2 test whether pupils can distinguish between properties of an object and of the material from which it is made.
Q3 then probes pupils’ meaning of the term ‘chemical’: do they think all matter is made of ‘chemicals’ or that some is not? It may be useful to know this before using the idea of ‘chemical’ or ‘chemical change’ (or, indeed, that of ‘new materials’ being formed, as the National Curriculum at KS2 puts it).
Qs4-7 ask pupils to distinguish between examples of physical and chemical change, or where they think a new substance has been produced or not. The examples in each pair of questions here are the same – as it may be more useful to find out if a pupil sees these two ideas (a chemical change/new substance(s) formed) as equivalent. There is, of course, no reliable or infallible way to tell from observation if a change is physical or chemical – and chemists argue about some examples. So these questions should only be seen as giving a broad indication of the consistency (or otherwise) of pupils’ thinking.
Qs8-9 are about separating by filtering – a topic that is included in the KS2 National
Curriculum (Sc3). These questions probe understanding of the principles rather than recall of
what happens. Q8(c) is the exception to the statement above that these questions do not
require particle ideas.
Q10 tests pupils’ recall of the correct terms for changes of state. This could be modified (to
make it more difficult) by removing the box of words.

JC Science

#### How it maps to the curriculum

JC
Science

Strand: 3. Chemical World

Strand unit: 1. Chemical and Physical Changes (Mass)

Suggestions for use: Authorship and copyright is held by the University of York. These questions are available to teachers for any non-commercial use.

Strand: 3. Chemical World

Strand unit: 2. Atomic Nature of Matter & Separation

Suggestions for use: Authorship and copyright is held by the University of York. These questions are available to teachers for any non-commercial use.

Asset type: Document
Language: English
Special Needs:

### Particle Model of Matter - Diagnostic Questions Set 8

https://www.scoilnet.ieuploads/resources/26182/25918.pdf Added: 29 Mar 2018 Contributor: Scoilnet Resource type: Assessment / Worksheet

These questions probe pupils’ ability to apply the particle model of matter (and its elaboration into the atomic/molecular model of matter) to examples of the behaviour of matter, including physical and chemical change.
Q1 tests pupils’ ability to recognise the standard representations of solids, liquids and gases, as well as their recall of the terms of changes of state.
Qs2-4 probe pupils ability to link statements about particles to observed behaviours of solids, liquids and gases.
Q5 suggests a way of probing pupils’ ability to make sense of (and to read meaning into) common textbook representations of particle models). You could apply this idea to other textbook images if you wish.
Q6 is a version of a question used by many researchers to probe understanding of the particle model of a gas.
Qs7-10 are about the atomic/molecular model of matter and of chemical change. These ideas provide pupils with a means of explaining the difference between a physical and a chemical change.

JC Science

#### How it maps to the curriculum

JC
Science

Strand: 3. Chemical World

Strand unit: 2. Atomic Nature of Matter & Separation

Suggestions for use: Authorship and copyright is held by the University of York. These questions are available to teachers for any non-commercial use.

Asset type: Document
Language: English
Special Needs:

# Registering for a Scoilnet Account – your first step to contributing and sharing

## What you need...

To register for a Scoilnet Account you will need to have a Teaching Council number and a roll number for your school in Ireland.