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Mária B. Németh, Krisztián Józsa and Erzsébet Antal: Differentiated Levels of Requirements as Bases for Describing Students' Knowledge (in Biology)

This study presents the results of diagnostic Biology and Health Education tests. The test-design was based on a sophisticated methodology of measurement. As the aim of the project was to collect information on the effectivity of curriculum regulation through minimum requirements, different test items were constructed for different requirement levels (minimum and above minimum levels). These types of assessment instruments and such evaluation of achievement can be seen as relatively new developments in subject-related achievement testing. Unlike in previous research studies, even the items of the individual tasks were differentiated in our tests. As a result of this design, we could investigate the extent to which students reach minimum levels of requirement defined in the curriculum the extent to which they have acquired the knowledge considered to be basic in Biology. Representing minimum requirements at the item-level could make it possible to construct diagnostic maps that show the degree to which knowledge defined indispensible for everyone has been acquired. In addition, this type of test design could help in detecting students whose achievement is acceptable when assessed with traditional instruments (and who, as a result, can continue their studies) but who do not possess the necessary basic knowledge in Biology. For some students, this lack of knowledge might be a source of learning difficulties at higher levels of schooling. Data were gathered in spring 1999. The sample consisted of 8711 grade 8 (14-year-old) students. The study discusses students' achievement at minimum and above minimum requirement levels, investigates their relationships and offers possible explanations. The means of minimum and above minimum requirement items differ slightly from test to test, but no clear-cut difference was found between achievement on the two types of items; the correlation coefficient of minimum and above minimum requirement items is high. The distribution of scores show that even students who could not reach minimum levels of requirement (as defined in the curriculum) can continue their studies in higher grades. The similarity of the means of performance on minimum and above minimum items can probably be explained by the lack of differentiation between curricular contents. Teachers do not put more emphasis on elements of knowledge described as belonging to minimum levels of requirement. The results warn us, however, that the characteristics of instruments, such as type and content of task and the ratio of achievement levels as represented by the items may have a considerable effect on students' achievement. The results of the study can be useful when constructing tests for the two-level maturity exam and can contribute to preserving the quality of Biology intruction.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 101. Number 4. 485-511. (2001)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: B. Németh Mária, Józsa Krisztián, Szegedi Tudo­mányegyetem, Pedagógiai Tanszék, H-6722 Szeged, Petőfi S. sgt. 30-34. Antal Erzsébet, Szegedi Tudományegyetem, Biológiai Szakmódszertani Csoport, H-6725 Szeged, Tisza Lajos krt. 103.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia