Gender differences on the NELS:88 multiple-choice and constructed-response science tests were explored through a combination of statistical analyses and interviews. Performance gaps between males and females varied across formats (multiple-choice versus constructed-response) and across items within a format. Differences were largest for items that involved visual content and called on application of knowledge commonly acquired through extracurricular activities. Large-scale surveys such as NELS:88 are widely used by researchers to study the effects of various student and school characteristics on achievement. The results of this investigation reveal the value of studying the validity of the outcome measure and suggest that conclusions about group differences and about correlates of achievement depend heavily on specific features of the items that make up the test.
Originally published in: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, v. 20, no. 3, Fall 1998, pp. 179-195.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation 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 www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation 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.