Cover: The Effects of Content, Format, and Inquiry Level on Science Performance Assessment Scores

The Effects of Content, Format, and Inquiry Level on Science Performance Assessment Scores

Published 2003

by Brian M. Stecher, Stephen P. Klein, Guillermo Solano-Flores, Daniel F. McCaffrey, Abby Robyn, Richard J. Shavelson, Edward Haertel

Purchase Print Copy

Add to Cart Paperback22 pages Free

In this study, the authors investigated 3 factors that may contribute to the large variation in student performance across open-ended measures. These factors are content domain, format (whether the task required only pencil and paper or involved a hands-on manipulation of equipment), and level of inquiry (whether the task guided the student toward the solution or required the student to develop a solution strategy). A group of 6 similar investigations of acids and bases were developed from a common shell that controlled for format and level of inquiry. Students completed 2 of these tasks as well as tasks drawn from other content areas and a multiple-choice test of science. Results did not bear out the hypothesis that tasks that were similar to each other in content, level of inquiry, and format would correlate higher with each other than with measures that differed on these dimensions. Post hoc analyses of the tasks revealed unanticipated differences in developers' interpretation of the shell that may have affected student performance. Implications for large-scale use of performance measures are discussed.

Originally published in: Applied Measurement in Education, v. 13, no. 2, April 2000, pp. 139-160.

This report is part of the RAND reprint series. The Reprint was a product of RAND from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.