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The goal of this research project is to better utilize the information collected by instructors when they administer the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) to students as a pre-test and post-test of their conceptual understanding of Newtonian mechanics. The normalized gain, g, is among the most widely and easily-used metrics because instructors are able to distill the performance of the entire class to a single number. However, the ease and ubiquity of the metric mask several potential ambiguities; through analyzing pre-test/post-test FCI scores of over 12,000 students, we find that these ambiguities can actually influence comparisons among individual classes. Therefore, we propose using stratagrams, graphical summaries of the fraction of students who exhibit “Newtonian thinking,” as a clearer, more informative method of both assessing a single class and comparing performance among classes.

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