Using Item Response Theory to Improve Locally-Constructed Multiple Choice Tests: Measuring Knowledge Gains and Curricular Effectiveness

Janie Knell, Andrea Wilhoite, Joshua Fugate, Wilson González-Espada
2015 Electronic Journal of Science Education   unpublished
Current science education reform efforts emphasize teaching K-12 science using hands-on, inquiry activities. For maximum learning and probability of implementation among inservice teachers, these strategies must be modeled in college science courses for preservice teachers. About a decade ago, Morehead State University revised their science content courses to follow an inquiry approach. As part of the courses' assessment, a locally-made, diagnostic pre-and post-test was prepared. The main
more » ... e of this "ex post facto" study was to demonstrate how concepts from Item Response Theory can be used to detect and remove psychometrically faulty items, and how the remaining items can be used by teachers to determine science learning gains in an inquiry-based physical science course that implemented two different curricula, "Physics and Everyday Thinking" and "Interactions in Physical Science".