ERIC Number: ED389717
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1991-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
Effects of Prose Complexity on Achievement Test Item Difficulty.
Scheuneman, Janice; And Others
To help increase the understanding of sources of difficulty in test items, a study was undertaken to evaluate the effects of various aspects of prose complexity on the difficulty of achievement test items. The items of interest were those that presented a verbal stimulus followed by a question about the stimulus and a standard set of multiple-choice options. Items were selected for study from two tests with differing demands on an examinee's knowledge base, the NTE Communications Skills test (sample size of about 850 examinees) and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Subject Test in Psychology (sample of 1,000). Standard multiple regression analyses and S. E. Embretson's model fitting procedures were used to evaluate the contribution of various complexity factors to the prediction of difficulty. These factors, which included measures of item structure, readability, semantic content, cognitive demand, and knowledge demand, were found to be successful in predicting item difficulty for these items. The immediate usefulness of the results for test development practice, however, are limited by the fact that only a single item type was studied and by the time required to develop the complexity measures. (Contains 1 figure, 14 tables, and 25 references.) (Author/SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ.
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Graduate Record Examinations