The Role of Gender in Test-Taking Motivation under Low-Stakes Conditions

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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Examinee effort can impact the validity of scores on higher education assessments. Many studies of examinee effort have briefly noted gender differences, but gender differences in test-taking effort have not been a primary focus of research. This review of the literature brings together gender-related findings regarding three measures of examinee motivation: attendance at the assigned testing session, time spent on each test item, and self-reported effort. Evidence from the literature is summarized, with some new results presented. Generally, female examinees exert more effort, with differences mostly at very low levels of effort—the levels at which effort is most likely to impact test scores. Examinee effort is positively correlated with conscientiousness and agreeableness, and negatively correlated with work-avoidance. The gender differences in these constructs may account for some of the gender differences in test-taking effort. Limitations and implications for higher education assessment practice are discussed.