Are Multiple Choice Questions Gender Discriminatory?

Posted on April 12, 2018 by Cognii Admin

Recently, the journal Educational Researcher published a very interesting paper titled "The Relationship Between Test Item Format and Gender Achievement Gaps on Math and ELA Tests in Fourth and Eighth Grades." It is authored by researchers from Stanford Graduate School of Education, and the Learning Policy Institute. 

The paper highlights the important effect of the educational test format on the gender achievement gap. After analyzing roughly 8 million student answer scores on state assessments, they observe a strong bias of multiple-choice items in favor of male students. On the other hand, they observed that the female students performed better on open-response (aka constructed-response, or essay) questions. 

Given that most of the state summative tests as well as placement tests contains about 80-90% multiple-choice questions and very few open-response questions, they have an inherent bias, or discrimination, against female students. One way of reducing this discrimination, is for the educational leaders to agree to reduce the multiple=choice questions by 10% per year and adding more open-response questions.

Cognii's singular focus on supporting the open-response questions based assessments, in this light, appears to be supportive of female students, reduces the possible discrimination, and bridges the gender achievement gap.