Session S25c (Tuesday, 9:30am, Thomas 104)

P440: Do you speak chemistry? Assessing the degree of inconsistency between expert and novice interpretations of exam questions

Eliscia Fought, Nathan Barrows (Grand Valley State University, USA)

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 catalyzed the institutionalization of standardized testing in public schools. As many college and university faculty resist using standardized tests, their students continue to be assessed via measures created by instructors with little or no training in educational measurement. Although instructor-developed questions and course content are generally congruent, a class of students will occasionally perform poorly on a conceptually simple question. To better understand this phenomenon, we are interviewing GVSU students and faculty about characteristics of general chemistry exam questions that cause them to be difficult, confusing, or both. A secondary goal of this research is to compare faculty and student perspectives of clarity and difficulty. Preliminary results suggest that three primary categories are present – test stressors, item construction, and language – and that faculty and students hold disparate views of clarity and difficulty.


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