Koli Calling'21

Talk: Wrong Answers for Wrong Reasons: The Risks of Ad Hoc Instruments

Wed, Nov 17, 2021Sun, Nov 21, 2021

Luca Chiodini presenting Wrong Answers for Wrong Reasons: The Risks of Ad Hoc Instruments at Koli Calling 2021 online.

Recorded Talk


To evaluate novel pedagogies, approaches, and tools, Computer Science Education researchers often conduct experiments to look for differences among groups treated with different interventions. The methodological rigor of such experiments affects the soundness of the conclusions the researchers can draw. In this paper we focus on a central aspect of such experimental research: the instruments used to assess participants’ knowledge. Specifically, we study the use of ad hoc instruments and the risks due to their insufficient validation. We present a literature survey that highlights how, even though standardized instruments exist, the majority of published experiments in the last five years at major Computer Science Education conferences carries out pre/post-tests using ad hoc instruments, often with multiple-choice as question type. We demonstrate the risks of such commonly used but insufficiently validated multiple-choice instruments. We propose a richer way to analyze and assess the correctness of answers to multiple-choice questions, requiring participants to add brief explanation texts as a justification of each answer. We run an experiment and analyze the collected answers using the two approaches, with and without explanations, to show that the risk of drawing opposite conclusions from the statistical analysis is real.

External Link

Koli Calling 2021