International Journal of Testing | VOL. ahead-of-print
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Evaluating group differences in online reading comprehension: The impact of item properties

Publication Date Feb 21, 2022

Abstract

This study examined group differences in online reading comprehension (ORC) using student data from the 2016 administration of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (ePIRLS). An explanatory item response modeling approach was used to explore the effects of item properties (i.e., item format, text complexity, and cognitive complexity), student characteristics (i.e., gender and language groups), and their interactions on dichotomous and polytomous item responses. The results showed that female students outperform male students in ORC tasks and that the achievement difference between female and male students appears to change text complexity increases. Similarly, the cognitive complexity of the items seems to play a significant role in explaining the gender gap in ORC performance. Students who never (or sometimes) speak the test language at home particularly struggled with answering ORC tasks. The achievement gap between students who always (or almost always) speak the test language at home and those who never (or sometimes) speak the test language at home was larger for constructed-response items and items with higher cognitive complexity. Overall, the findings suggest that item properties could help understand performance differences between gender and language groups in ORC assessments.

Concepts

Online Reading Comprehension International Reading Literacy Study Polytomous Item Responses Higher Cognitive Complexity Cognitive Complexity Evaluating Group Differences Language Groups Text Complexity Item Properties Item Response

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