Innovative Questionnaire Assessment Methods to Increase Cross-Country Comparability

Authored by: Patrick C. Kyllonen , Jonas P. Bertling

Handbook of International Large-Scale Assessment

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  November  2013

Print ISBN: 9781439895122
eBook ISBN: 9781439895146
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/b16061-15

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Abstract

The primary purpose of international large-scale assessments has been to compare student achievement levels across educational systems, but a secondary purpose, growing in importance, has been to compare student responses on background questionnaires. For example, at a recent international meeting, a representative of one country’s educational system announced to the audience that he had “good news and bad news” to report. The good news was that his country was “once again, one of the top countries in the world in student achievement.” The bad news was that his country “was among the worst in students’ attitudes towards school.” This statement, essentially implying parity between achievement scores and background factors, reflects the seriousness with which educational leaders are now treating data obtained from background questionnaires. On the other hand, one wonders whether such data, based almost exclusively on self-assessments using simple rating scales (often called Likert or Likert-type scales), are of sufficient quality to permit this kind of inference concerning national comparisons. Do students from this country truly believe their school climate is worse than the school climates of other countries? Or does the finding simply reflect a difference in response style, the general tendency to respond to rating scales in a particular way, without regard to the construct being measured? Or is it a mixture of both construct and response style differences?

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