Date of Award

August 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Bo Zhang

Committee Members

Cindy M. Walker, James H. Peoples


Differential Item Functioning, Linguistic Complexity, Logistic Regression, PISA, Second Language, SES


The year 2003 represents a significant milestone in the history of education development in Malaysia. From 2003, mathematics and science will be taught in English. This change in policy was deemed necessary to ensure that Malaysians are able to keep abreast with scientific and technological development that is mostly recorded in the English language. However, an unintended consequence of this language change was its huge impact on the national education system and the assessment of that system as well. Whenever students are not tested in their home language, one validity issue arises, which is how language, rather than the targeted knowledge, affects their performance.

The research design involves running DIF analysis for PISA 2012 mathematics assessment to verify and confirm the DIF status of the items analysed. DIF will be run using logistic regression method to check whether any mathematics items show DIF among two groups of examinees tested in their home language (Malay) and examinees tested in a second language (English). The goal is to examine whether test items functioned differently for both groups. One can investigate how the reading ability of students may affect the measurement of their performance in math. Furthermore, one can also explore whether into other important relevant variables such as socioeconomic status (SES) may explain the differential performance of students with different language backgrounds.