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