IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

A new and direct test of the ‘gender bias’ in multiple-choice questions

Listed author(s):
  • Stan du Plessis


    (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

  • Sophia du Plessis


    (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

Local and international research has identified a bias in favour of male students with MCQs. If correctly identified, this bias holds implications for reasonable assessment strategies in economics courses. A standard method used in the literature is to relate student performance to various features of the learning environment (such as the type of question) and to student-specific characteristics (such as past performance and lecture attendance). A more direct approach is possible: we set comparable questions (in three categories – graphs, quantitative and theory) in the written and MCQ sections of three tests in the introductory microeconomics course at the University of Stellenbosch. This allows a direct comparison between the performance of male and female students (overall and per question category), without the need to model overall student performance. The number of students in this course, almost 2000, offers a suitably large sample for studying this question. Our evidence does not confirm the strong claims about gender bias in the literature; indeed we find the opposite: a strong positive female gender effect, but for written questions only. We also find no evidence of higher risk-aversion by female students towards MCQ questions with negative marking.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: First version, 2009
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 23/2009.

in new window

Date of creation: 2009
Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers96
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Private Bag X1, 7602 Matieland

Phone: 021-8082247
Fax: +27 (0)21-808 2409
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers96. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Melt van Schoor)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.