Student Summer Scholars


Do You Speak Chemistry? Assessing the Degree of Inconsistency Between Expert and Novice Interpretations of Exam questions



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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 interviewed 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 was to compare faculty and student perspectives of clarity and difficulty.