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ERIC Number: EJ1168697
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-2469-9896
Gender Fairness within the Force Concept Inventory
Traxler, Adrienne; Henderson, Rachel; Stewart, John; Stewart, Gay; Papak, Alexis; Lindell, Rebecca
Physical Review Physics Education Research, v14 n1 p010103-1-010103-17 Jan-Jun 2018
Research on the test structure of the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) has largely ignored gender, and research on FCI gender effects (often reported as "gender gaps") has seldom interrogated the structure of the test. These rarely crossed streams of research leave open the possibility that the FCI may not be structurally valid across genders, particularly since many reported results come from calculus-based courses where 75% or more of the students are men. We examine the FCI considering both psychometrics and gender disaggregation (while acknowledging this as a binary simplification), and find several problematic questions whose removal decreases the apparent gender gap. We analyze three samples (total N[subscript pre] = 5391 , N[subscript post] = 5769) looking for gender asymmetries using classical test theory, item response theory, and differential item functioning. The combination of these methods highlights six items that appear substantially unfair to women and two items biased in favor of women. No single physical concept or prior experience unifies these questions, but they are broadly consistent with problematic items identified in previous research. Removing all significantly gender-unfair items halves the gender gap in the main sample in this study. We recommend that instructors using the FCI report the reduced-instrument score as well as the 30-item score, and that credit or other benefits to students not be assigned using the biased items.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: PHY0108787