ERIC Number: ED321525
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Jun
Sociolinguistic Test Item Review.
Rubin, Donald L.
Because the language of a multiple choice test is formal and often unfamiliar, certain linguistic features may lead a test-taker to misconstrue the test instructions, questions, or answers. When this happens, a shared understanding of meaning between tester and test-taker is not present, and the test results are invalid. Although this problem exists for all test-takers, it is more acute for members of non-mainstream speech communities because they are less likely to suspend their normative expectations of discourse. This study was undertaken to identify potential sources of linguistic distortion that might undermine a multiple-choice test's validity for measuring job-relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities among Black English Vernacular speakers in a southern urban setting. Problematic linguistic features identified include: undue syntactic complexity, tense switching, the use of incomplete question stems, plural/possessive ambiguity, and others. Included is a bibliography of significant references on multiple-choice test bias, and a form that can be used when examining test items for sociolinguistic bias. (JL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Auburn Univ., Montgomery, AL. Center for Business and Economic Development.
Authoring Institution: N/A