Assessing scientific literacy through computer-based tests – consequences related to content and gender

Eva Davidsson, Helene Sørensen, Peter Allerup


Large-scale studies are now common tools for assessing students’ knowledge in science, and there is an increased interest in conducting evaluations using computers. However, several studies indicate that students’ achievements on computer-based science tests often involve significant gender differences: boys outperform girls. This paper explores how students’ performances are affected by the content and the context of the test, Computer-Based Assessment in Science (CBAS), from a gender perspective. The framework of curriculum emphases is used to describe and analyze the CBAS items and to accomplish a rich description of what science may be. The results indicate different gender patterns depending on the items’ content and context. Furthermore, the analysis reveals that the portrayal of scientific literacy tends to be dependent on the test mode.

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