Construction of Instructional Sensitive Test Items (COINS)

Student results from standardized achievement tests are often used to assess students‘ learning, to evaluate the quality of school, teaching and other educational measures or to compare educational systems at the national and international level.

Ensuring the instructional sensitivity of tests or test items is an important prerequisite for drawing valid inferences on the quantity and quality of teaching. The aim of the project is to gain insights into the construction of instructionally sensitive test items in order to use them for the development of standardized achievement tests.

Institute Educational Assessment

Prof. Dr. Jan Hochweber (PHSG)

Prof. Dr. Johannes Hartig (DIPF)


M.A. Stephanie Leininger (PHSG)

Prof. Dr. Stephan Schönenberger (PHSG)

Dr. Marit Kristine List (DIPF)

Dr. Alexander Naumann (DIPF)

Cooperation Partners

DIPF Frankfurt am Main

Prof. Dr. Maria Araceli Ruiz-Primo (Stanford University)

Duration 1 January 2020 - 31 December 2023

Project part PHSG: Schweizerischer Nationalfonds (SNF)

Project part DIPF: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

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Find out more about it

The project builds on the findings of the SNSF project "Instructional Sensitivity of Test Items in Educational Testing" (2015 to 2019). While the first project dealt with the question of how to measure the instructional sensitivity of test items, the new SNSF project focuses on the construction of instructionally sensitive test items. 

How can instructionally sensitive test items be constructed?

The SNSF project on the construction of instructionally sensitive test items focuses on the identification of item characteristics that determine the instructional sensitivity of test items. What distinguishes instructionally sensitive test items from test items which are not? In a first step, potentially relevant item characteristics will be identified with the help of mathematics experts. In a second step, the identified item characteristics’ relationship to instructional sensitivity will be empirically tested using student performance data and teaching data.

Findings about which item characteristics determine the instructional sensitivity of test items are of great value for the economical construction of new instructionally sensitive tests or test items. The results are particularly aimed at interested parties from empirical educational research and educational psychology.

The binational research project is conducted at St.Gallen University of Teacher Education (Prof. Dr. Jan Hochweber, Stephanie Musow, M.A., and Prof. Dr. Stephan Schönenberger) and at the DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education in Frankfurt a. M. (Prof. Dr. Johannes Hartig, Dr. Marit Kristine List, and Dr. Alexander Naumann). Prof. Dr. Maria Araceli Ruiz-Primo from Stanford University is an official cooperation partner and will contribute significantly to the successful implementation of the project with her professional expertise in the field of test and item construction.

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