Validation of a simulation-based assessment of inquiry abilities

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Wu, P. H.
Wu, H.-K.
Hsu, Y. S.
Hwang, F. K.

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Students’ fundamental abilities of inquiry are of value in science learning and have been increasingly emphasized as an important component of science education. Some assessments have been developed to measure students’ inquiry abilities, but few of them are simulation-based. To take advantage of the advanced technology, we developed a simulation-based assessment of inquiry abilities (SAIA) that allows students to generate scientific explanations and demonstrate their experimental abilities. This paper describes the validation of the assessment. Data were collected from 48 twelfth grade students at a local high school who were categorized into three groups based on their majored programs. Due to the different learning goals of the programs, students in the three groups were expected to have different levels of inquiry abilities and construct validity was estimated by using the known-groups method. Criterion validity was estimated based on the correlation between SAIA and a validated assessment tool, Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning (CTSR). Content validity was investigated by examining the agreement among three experts. The results of the Kruskal-Wallis test and the post hoc analysis showed significant differences among three groups (χ2= 24.79, p < .01) so the construct validity of the assessment for distinguishing between the groups was supported. The content validity was confirmed by a satisfactory level of agreement between the experts with Kappa coefficients of .88 and .96. The criterion-related validity was ensured by a positive significant correlation between SAIA and CTSR (r = .40, p < .01). These results indicated that SAIA is a valid assessment to evaluate high school students’ inquiry abilities.