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Interpreting gains and losses in conceptual test using Item Response Theory

Abstract : Conceptual tests are widely used by physics instructors to assess students' conceptual understanding and compare teaching methods. It is common to look at students' changes in their answers between a pre-test and a post-test to quantify a transition in student's conceptions. This is often done by looking at the proportion of incorrect answers in the pre-test that changes to correct answers in the post-test -- the gain -- and the proportion of correct answers that changes to incorrect answers -- the loss. By comparing theoretical predictions to experimental data on the Force Concept Inventory, we shown that Item Response Theory (IRT) is able to fairly well predict the observed gains and losses. We then use IRT to quantify the student's changes in a test-retest situation when no learning occurs and show that $i)$ up to 25\% of total answers can change due to the non-deterministic nature of student's answer and that $ii)$ gains and losses can go from 0\% to 100\%. Still using IRT, we highlight the conditions that must satisfy a test in order to minimize gains and losses when no learning occurs. Finally, recommandations on the interpretation of such pre/post-test progression with respect to the initial level of students are proposed.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01198565
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Submitted on : Sunday, September 13, 2015 - 6:58:02 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 11:10:35 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Tuesday, December 29, 2015 - 1:11:02 AM

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  • HAL Id : hal-01198565, version 1
  • ARXIV : 1509.03878

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Jean-François Parmentier, Brahim Lamine. Interpreting gains and losses in conceptual test using Item Response Theory. 2015. ⟨hal-01198565⟩

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