The Mathematics Enthusiast






This study aimed at determining the presence of gender Differential Item Functioning (DIF) for mathematics computation items among non-native speakers of English, and thus examining the relationship between gender DIF and characteristics of mathematics computation items. The research design is a comparative study, where the boys form the reference group and the girls form the focal group. The software WINSTEPS, which is based on the Rasch model was used. DIF analyses were conducted by using the Mantel-Haenszel chi-square method with boys forming the reference group and girls forming the focal group. A total of 988 boys and 1381 girls in form two were selected from 34 schools, with 17 schools located in the Penang island, 12 schools in Penang mainland and five schools in Perak. Some 20 items were selected from the grade eight TIMSS 1999 and TIMSS 2003 released mathematics items. Findings revealed that seven items were flagged as DIF, where two were of moderate DIF and one as large DIF. Two DIF items assessed combined operation from the topics of fraction and negative numbers in the Number domain and the cognitive domain of lower-order thinking skills of Knowing favoured girls. One moderate DIF which assessed higher order thinking skills of Applying from the Algebra domain favoured boys. The findings trigger a possibility that computation items with one step operation, which assess lower-order thinking skills favour girls, while items that assess higher-order thinking skills favour boys.

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