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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.905 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v4.i2-3.30
pages 113-127

EQUITABLE MEASUREMENT OF ACHIEVEMENT IN PHYSICS: HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS' RESPONSES TO ASSESSMENT TASKS IN DIFFERENT FORMATS AND CONTEXTS

Lionie J. Rennie
Science and Mathematics Education Center, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia, GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6845
Lesley H. Parker
Science and Mathematics Education Center, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia, GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6845

ABSTRACT

This paper reports research that aimed to establish whether patterns of students' reactions to, and achievement on, physics assessment tasks were associated with the format of the task, and with the presence or absence of real-world context in the task. The data were collected from approximately 600 15-year-old students by comparing their performance on sets of matched tasks. In one set, the problems were embedded in a real-life context, and in the other set, the problems were abstract, written without reference to real-life events or objects. The task formats included multiple choice, calculation, and explanation questions. Approximately equal numbers of male and female high school students completed a randomly assigned set of tasks, and a subsample of 167 students were later questioned about their reactions to the tasks. The study provides insight into the role of context in the strategies students use to tackle physics assessment tasks in different kinds of format, and demonstrates how context can be incorporated in the preparation of gender-inclusive assessment tasks. Questions remain, however, about the nature of the interaction between gender, task format and context, and the cognitive demands of the assessment task.


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