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An Analysis of Differential Item Functioning Based on Calculator Type.

Schwarz, Richard; Rich, Changhua; Arenson, Ethan; Podrabsky, Tracy; Cook, Gary

Abstract: The effect of calculator type on student performance on a mathematics examination was studied. Differential item functioning (DIF) methodology was applied to examine group differences (calculator use) on item performance while conditioning on the relevant ability. Other survey questions were developed to ask students the extent to which they used a calculator, the perceived usefulness of the calculator, and how often it was used in the classroom. In addition, content experts were asked to identify whether an item was sensitive to calculator usage, the potential for being useful or distracting, and how the type of calculator would affect student performance. Student test data was obtained from the Tennessee Gateway assessment end-of-course test in Algebra 1. Six forms of the test were spiraled with approximately 7,000 students taking each form. No evidence of pervasive uniform difference in DIF resulting from calculator use was detected in this data. The type of questions in this assessment tended not to be sensitive to differential calculator use and did not impact test performance significantly. DIF was also not evident for students who used calculators versus those who did not. Calculator type, use, and familiarity were associated with differences in the univariate comparison of test scores. For example, students who responded that they used a graphing calculator performed higher than the other groups. Classroom practice and experience with calculators appeared to vary widely. Results from the expert judgment indicate that items with more egregious sensitivity to calculator use could be identified, although experts tended to over-identify items as being sensitive to calculator use. One appendix contains survey items related to calculator use, and the other describes the Linn-Harnisch DIF procedure. (Contains 3 figures, 4 tables, and 15 references.) (SLD)

Title: An Analysis of Differential Item Functioning Based on Calculator Type.
Author: Schwarz, Richard; Rich, Changhua; Arenson, Ethan; Podrabsky, Tracy; Cook, Gary
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council on Measurement in Education (New Orleans, LA, April 2-4, 2002).
Page Length: 25
Publication Year: 2002
Document Type: Research Report (143); Conference Paper (150)
Target Audience: Administrators and Practitioners and Teachers
ERIC Identifier: ED463326
Clearinghouse Identifier: TM033758
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Descriptors: * Algebra; * Calculators; * High School Students; High Schools; * Item Bias; * Mathematics Tests; * Scores; State Programs; Testing Problems; Testing Programs

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