The Accuracy of Students' Surveys
|Above copied from Bobi Tiglao Facebook page|
Rosen and coworkers have recently investigated the accuracy of students' surveys. They find that as the questions become more potentially sensitive, accuracy dramatically falls:
We find that students are reasonably good reporters of course-taking patterns but poor reporters of more potentially sensitive questions, including when the student completed Algebra I and the grade earned in the course. We find that lack of accuracy in student survey reports is consistently related to several student characteristics.The lack of accuracy is an important finding but more troubling is the observation that inaccuracy correlates with student characteristics. And this is vividly seen when students are asked to report the grades they received:
|Above copied from Rosen et al.|
In the above table, the numbers in bold are the percentages of correct responses for each letter grade. One can see that accuracy correlates with higher grades. However, this is probably much more than just a correlation with a student's cognitive ability since the errors are not random. A student is more likely to report incorrectly a higher grade than a lower one. One can see this with "C" students, they are more likely to report incorrectly a "B" than a "D" (47.7 versus 6.2, respectively). Responding to a survey means revealing something about ourselves. When such information becomes sensitive and potentially reflecting something not so good about ourselves, we are naturally inclined not to answer truthfully.