Validation of an Instrument for Measuring Students’ Understanding of Interdisciplinary Science in Grades 4-8 over Multiple Semesters: a Rasch Measurement Study

  • Yang YangEmail author
  • Peng He
  • Xiufeng Liu


So far, not enough effort has been invested in developing reliable, valid, and engaging assessments in school science, especially assessment of interdisciplinary science based on the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Furthermore, previous tools rely mostly on multiple-choice items and evaluation of student outcome is linked only to their raw scores in standardized tests. In addition, educational research on student science achievement always limits in certain grade/subject according to application of raw scores. This study provides a way to design, validate, and further improve an instrument to assess student understanding in interdisciplinary science across grade and time. Meanwhile, student learning growth is investigated. The data are collected from elementary/middle school student survey from an Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP) in Northeastern part of the USA. The results show a generally good quality of instrument through various aspects of empirical evidence, such as dimensionality, model-data-fit, and validity. Finally, student learning growth in understanding interdisciplinary science shows a sharp increase between elementary and middle school. The study sheds light on developing more reliable and valid instruments in assessing student science understanding based on the new standards and it also provides suggestions of implementation in both educational research and practice.


Crosscutting concepts Interdisciplinary science Instrument validation Learning growth Rasch measurement 



This paper is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-1102998. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in the materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Learning and InstructionUniversity at Buffalo, SUNYBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Institution of Chemical EducationNortheast Normal UniversityChangchunPeople’s Republic of China

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