Equitable assessment of students in physics: importance of gender and language background

Taylor & Francis Inc.
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Science Education, 1997, 19 (4), pp. 381 - 392
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Research on student learning has shown that assessment is a key factor in determining students' approaches to learning. It plays an important role in their willingness and ability to pursue further studies in a field and to consider careers in a field. Some research suggests that in areas of science and technology, questions of the traditional short quantitative type, multiple choice structure or those lacking in context may disadvantage female students in assessments. In this paper, we report on a study of student assessment in first year physics at university level. The results suggest that the question type and the context within which the questions were set were likely to favour male students. In performance, the group most at risk were female students of non-English speaking background. Strategies are discussed for changing assessments in the physical sciences to use more gender equitable approaches.
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