Article

International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 845-868

USING ITEM RESPONSE THEORY TO CONDUCT A DISTRACTER ANALYSIS ON CONCEPTUAL INVENTORY OF NATURAL SELECTION

  • Bryce Thomas BattistiAffiliated withDepartment of Integrated Sciences, Asian University for Women
  • , Nikki HaneganAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, College of Life Sciences, Brigham Young University Email author 
  • , Richard SudweeksAffiliated withDepartment of Instructional Psychology and Technology, McKay School of Education, Brigham Young University
  • , Rex CatesAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, College of Life Sciences, Brigham Young University

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Abstract

Concept inventories are often used to assess current student understanding although conceptual change models are problematic. Due to controversies with conceptual change models and the realities of student assessment, it is important that concept inventories are evaluated using a variety of theoretical models to improve quality. This study used a modified item response theory model to determine university nonmajor biology students’ levels of understanding of natural selection (n = 1,192). Using Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection, we have reported how we applied Bock’s modified nominal item response theory model and the distracter test item analysis. We found that the use of this model can define student levels of understanding and identify problematic distracters.

Key words

biology concept inventories item response theory