Gender differences in Norwegian PIRLS 2016 and ePIRLS 2016 results at test mode, text and item format level

Av Katrin Schulz-Heidorf & Hildegunn Støle: Gender differences in reading are a common finding in international assessments with girls usually outperforming boys.

This article investigates such gender differences by looking at test modes (paper-based versus digital assessments), reading purpose (literary versus informational), text features (associations between reading scores and how much students like a text) and item formatcharacteristics (multiple choice versus constructed response items). All analyses are based on data of Norwegian fifth-grade students (n = 3610) from the most recent cycle of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Survey (PIRLS and ePIRLS) 2016.

The results point towards a general mode effect between the paper-based and digital assessment for constructed response items. This effect seems to be less strong in boys, indicating that boys may be motivated to type responses on a keyboard as opposed to writing with a pen on paper. For text features, we found that boys might be
disengaged from reading when the text shows female characteristics such as a female protagonist, leading to boys’ lack of interest and, subsequently, to lower scores. The results are discussed in the light of the test design of PIRLS and ePIRLS.

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