Examining the impact of question surface features on students’ answers to constructed-response questions on photosynthesis

Michele Weston, Kevin C. Haudek, Luanna Prevost, Mark Urban-Lurain, John Merrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 4 Citations

Abstract

One challenge in science education assessment is that students often focus on surface features of questions rather than the underlying scientific principles. We investigated how student written responses to constructed-response questions about photosynthesis vary based on two surface features of the question: the species of plant and the order of two question prompts. We asked four versions of the question with different combinations of the two plant species and order of prompts in an introductory cell biology course. We found that there was not a significant difference in the content of student responses to versions of the question stem with different species or order of prompts, using both computerized lexical analysis and expert scoring. We conducted 20 face-to-face interviews with students to further probe the effects of question wording on student responses. During the interviews, we found that students thought that the plant species was neither relevant nor confusing when answering the question. Students identified the prompts as both relevant and confusing. However, this confusion was not specific to a single version.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
JournalCBE Life Sciences Education
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Profile

Photosynthesis
Students
student
Neurophysiological Recruitment
Edema Disease of Swine
Interviews
interview
Meclofenoxate
Cell Biology
Education
biology
content
course
assessment
science
education
impact
effect
analysis
Cytology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

Examining the impact of question surface features on students’ answers to constructed-response questions on photosynthesis. / Weston, Michele; Haudek, Kevin C.; Prevost, Luanna; Urban-Lurain, Mark; Merrill, John.

In: CBE Life Sciences Education, Vol. 14, No. 2, 19, 01.06.2015.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Weston, Michele; Haudek, Kevin C.; Prevost, Luanna; Urban-Lurain, Mark; Merrill, John / Examining the impact of question surface features on students’ answers to constructed-response questions on photosynthesis.

In: CBE Life Sciences Education, Vol. 14, No. 2, 19, 01.06.2015.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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