When teaching physics, assessment can pose a few challenges. The first, and perhaps greatest, is how to measure a task’s cognitive complexity with an assessment instrument so that it reveals the student’s conceptual understanding and skill level. The aspects to be considered are numerous, such as the characteristics of the group of students, what was taught, and the way it was taught, among others. We propose a taxonomy specific to physics teaching that takes context into account, allowing for a more accurate, integrated assessment than other, more general, ones. By using this taxonomy, we can better align tasks within an assessment instrument with physics programs’ teaching and learning goals at both the high school and university levels.

The learning assessment process must include a group of characteristics for the resulting inferences to be considered valid and accurately reflect the student’s learning state, e.g., instructional validity and content validity. In physics...

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