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Factors Affecting Differential Item Functioning for Black Examinees on Scholastic Aptitude Test Analogy Items DIF SAT

Schmitt, Alicia P.; Bleistein, Carole A.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Analogies, Black Students, Differential Item Functioning (DIF), Difficulty Level, Item Analysis, Performance Factors, Response Style (Tests), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)


The purpose of the present investigation was to identify item factors that may contribute to differential item functioning (DIF) for Black examinees on Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) analogy items. This research was considered necessary because analogy items have repeatedly been identified as differentially more difficult for Black examinees. The research was performed in two steps. Initially items in three forms were classified according to several possible explanatory factors. Preliminary analyses identified several factors that seemed to affect DIF for Black examinees. In order to confirm these hypothesized factors, a second step involved classifying and analyzing analogy items from two additional SAT forms. The most significant finding is that Black students appear to need more time to complete the SAT verbal sections than White students with comparable total SAT verbal scores. This differential speededness effect makes analogy items appear differentially more difficult for Black examinees. Once differential item functioning statistics were corrected for speededness, a smaller number of analogy items were identified as differentially more difficult. In addition, evaluation of the hypothesized factors showed that some of the factors are interdependent and no clear distinction could be made to determine out their individual effects. These item factors are: item position within each analogy set, difficulty, subject matter content, and level of abstractness. The effects of homographs and semantic relationship types are also confounded with the previous factors. The only factor that seemed to be independent was "vertical relationships". In general, a vertical or word associative answering strategy seems to be more consistently used by Black examinees on those items with negative DIF. (51pp.)

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