Gendered differences in response to assessment tasks: Myth and reality

Following the discovery of a significant and persistent attainment gap on a gateway physics module at the UK Open University (with women, on average, doing less well), a major investigation is underway into possible causes of this and other demographic gaps in attainment. Note that similar discrepancies do not exist on our other modules, whilst similar findings are reported from many other physics departments. In particular, the Force Concept Inventory (Hestenes et al., 1992), the first and best known inventory of physics, a multiple-choice instrument which is widely used across the world, demonstrates similar gender gaps (e.g. Henderson et al, 2018). In this talk I will focus on the potential influence of factors relating to assessment, based on an analysis of student responses to computer-marked and electronically submitted assessment items of various types. Our findings support some oft-reported hypotheses, but appear to challenge others.