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The Lunar Phases Concept Inventory (LPCI) is a twenty-item multiple-choice inventory developed to aid instructors in assessing the mental models their students utilize when answering questions concerning phases of the moon. Based upon an in-depth qualitative investigation of students' understanding of lunar phases, the LPCI was designed to take advantage of the innovative model analysis theory to probe the different dimensions of students' mental models of lunar phases. As part of a national field test, pre-instructional LPCI data was collected for over 750 students from multiple post-secondary institutions across the United States and Canada. Application of model analysis theory to this data set allowed researchers to probe the different mental models of lunar phases students across the country utilize prior to instruction. Results of this analysis display strikingly similar results for the different institutions, suggesting a potential underlying cognitive framework.
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