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Examining sources of gender DIF : a confirmatory approach Barnett, Sharon

Abstract

A confirmatory approach based on a multidimensional model (Douglas, Roussos, & Stout, 1996; Shealy & Stout, 1993; Stout & Roussos, 1995) was used to identify sources of differential item functioning (DIF) and differential bundle functioning (DBF) for boys and girls on the British Columbia Principles of Mathematics Exam for grade 12 (PME12). Data consisted of a total of 9404 examinees; 4335 girls and 5069 boys. There were 45 multiple choice items in the exam. Analyses were completed in two stages. In stage 1, patterns present in the gender DIF research in mathematics were identified. Stage 2 was the statistical confirmation of these patterns. Sources of gender DIF were confirmed for the content areas: polynomial, quadratic relations, logarithms and exponents. Items tapping higher cognitive levels dealing with patterns and relation, word problems, and items containing visuals were also confirmed as a source of DIF. Exploratory analyses indicated that computation items for which no equations are provided may be a source of DIF along with trigonometry items. This study contributes to an increased understanding of sources of gender DIF that may assist test developers to ensure that mathematics items measure the construct that they are intended to measure and that the test as a whole measures that which it purports to measure. The findings of this research provide an additional source of information about the differential performance of boys and girls that may be used to develop guidelines and test construction principles for reducing gender DIF in mathematics. This research also contributes to a greater understanding of gender differences in mathematics learning and achievement.

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