"The history of science is the history of measurement" (Cattell 1893). This is the first column of a series intended to provoke discussion about the history of measurement in the social sciences. Some issues I invite you to explore with me are:
* What are the major measurement problems in social science? How have
our views and approaches changed? (Reliability, Validity, Invariance,
* Have we made progress in measurement theory and practice? What is "progress"?
* Who are the major measurement theorists? What are their contributions? (Thorndike, Lazarsfeld, Thurstone, Rasch, Guttman, Coombs, Loevinger...)
* What is a "history" of social science measurement? By whom and for whom written? In what way different from the philosophy of measurement?
Constructing the History of Measurement:
A possible discussion framework is Michael M Sokal's (1984) "eleven- part recipe" for the history of testing. His first recommendation is that histories be empirical, i.e. make use of manuscript collections which include unpublished correspondence such as the Terman papers at Stanford or the Wood papers at ETS.
Next, he recommends a thorough treatment of technical issues. To make the evolution of measurement theory and practice understandable requires study and presentation of the statistical and quantitative details, as in comparative studies of theorists (Andrich 1978, 1985), and the development of a history of invariance (Engelhard 1984, 1990).
Third, he recommends detailed descriptions and discussions of the terms used. Merely referring to general concepts, such as objectivity, reliability or validity, without further definition is not enough. Wood (1923) views "objectivity" as the reliability of scoring that is obtained with true-false and multiple-choice ("objective") items. E L Thorndike's definition (1919) is broader: "a perfectly objective scale is a scale in respect to whose meaning all competent thinkers agree".
Sokal points out that measurement issues and practices develop in different contexts. There are societal, disciplinary, and international contexts. The societal problems faced by Terman in the measurement of intelligence in the US during WWI were different from those faced by Binet in France. Educational researchers, psychologists and sociologists attack similar measurement problems with different methods, and use similar methods to manage different problems. Even though psychology has dominated the work on testing, historians need an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the contributions of sociologists, economists, anthropologists, political scientists and statisticians.
Sokal calls for a personal approach, focussing on how a measurement theorist's individual experiences shaped his or her ideas about the theory and practice of testing, like the biographical analyses of Rasch (Wright 1980), Thelma Thurstone (Bashaw & Bashaw 1988) and E L Thorndike (Clifford 1984).
Although some histories may concentrate on narrow issues, the history of measurement must also be presented broadly in terms of subject and period (Linden & Linden 1968, Dubois 1970).
Lastly, Sokal calls for dispassionate and objective treatments. He criticizes Gould (1981) as too polemical. Emotional treatments of sensitive issues, like the nature versus nurture debates, invite distortion.
Sokal's recipe is far-reaching, but some ingredients are missing. He considers only an audience of historians, not measurement theorists or practitioners. He does not relate the philosophy of science to the history of measurement. He overlooks the impact of technology, especially the computer. Finally, he does not say who will write these histories: insiders (Seagoe 1975, Stigler 1986) or outsiders (Sokal 1987, Porter 1986)?
My hope is that histories of measurement will not be left to historians, but that psychometricians will also contribute. There are many "histories" of measurement.
"It is really strange that human beings are normally deaf to the strongest
arguments while they are always inclined to overestimate measuring accuracies."
Albert Einstein in a letter to Max Born, quoted in Paul Feyerabend, "Against Method", 1975, p. 75
History of Measurement, G Engelhard Jr Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1990, 4:2 p. 110
Please help with Standard Dataset 4: Andrich Rating Scale Model
|Rasch Measurement Transactions (free, online)||Rasch Measurement research papers (free, online)||Probabilistic Models for Some Intelligence and Attainment Tests, Georg Rasch||Applying the Rasch Model 3rd. Ed., Bond & Fox||Best Test Design, Wright & Stone|
|Rating Scale Analysis, Wright & Masters||Introduction to Rasch Measurement, E. Smith & R. Smith||Introduction to Many-Facet Rasch Measurement, Thomas Eckes||Invariant Measurement: Using Rasch Models in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, George Engelhard, Jr.||Statistical Analyses for Language Testers, Rita Green|
|Rasch Models: Foundations, Recent Developments, and Applications, Fischer & Molenaar||Journal of Applied Measurement||Rasch models for measurement, David Andrich||Constructing Measures, Mark Wilson||Rasch Analysis in the Human Sciences, Boone, Stave, Yale|
|in Spanish:||Análisis de Rasch para todos, Agustín Tristán||Mediciones, Posicionamientos y Diagnósticos Competitivos, Juan Ramón Oreja Rodríguez|
|Forum||Rasch Measurement Forum to discuss any Rasch-related topic|
Go to Top of Page
Go to index of all Rasch Measurement Transactions
AERA members: Join the Rasch Measurement SIG and receive the printed version of RMT
Some back issues of RMT are available as bound volumes
Subscribe to Journal of Applied Measurement
Go to Institute for Objective Measurement Home Page. The Rasch Measurement SIG (AERA) thanks the Institute for Objective Measurement for inviting the publication of Rasch Measurement Transactions on the Institute's website, www.rasch.org.
|Coming Rasch-related Events|
|Jan. 25-26, 2017, Wed.-Thurs.||In-person workshop: Measurement with the Rasch Model (M. Pampaka, J. Williams, Winsteps), Manchester, UK, website|
|Feb. 27 - June 24, 2017, Mon.-Sat.||On-line: Advanced course in Rasch Measurement Theory (EDUC5606), Website|
|March 31, 2017, Fri.||Conference: 11th UK Rasch Day, Warwick, UK, www.rasch.org.uk|
|April 2-3, 2017, Sun.-Mon.||Conference: Validity Evidence for Measurement in Mathematics Education (V-M2Ed), San Antonio, TX, Information|
|April 26-30, 2017, Wed.-Sun.||NCME, San Antonio, TX, www.ncme.org|
|April 27 - May 1, 2017, Thur.-Mon.||AERA, San Antonio, TX, www.aera.net|
|May 26 - June 23, 2017, Fri.-Fri.||On-line workshop: Practical Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com|
|June 30 - July 29, 2017, Fri.-Fri.||On-line workshop: Practical Rasch Measurement - Further Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com|
|July 31 - Aug. 3, 2017, Mon.-Thurs.||Joint IMEKO TC1-TC7-TC13 Symposium 2017: Measurement Science challenges in Natural and Social Sciences, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, imeko-tc7-rio.org.br|
|Aug. 7-9, 2017, Mon-Wed.||PROMS 2017: Pacific Rim Objective Measurement Symposium, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia, proms.promsociety.org/2017/|
|Aug. 11 - Sept. 8, 2017, Fri.-Fri.||On-line workshop: Many-Facet Rasch Measurement (E. Smith, Facets), www.statistics.com|
|Aug. 18-21, 2017, Fri.-Mon.||IACAT 2017: International Association for Computerized Adaptive Testing, Niigata, Japan, iacat.org|
|Sept. 15-16, 2017, Fri.-Sat.||IOMC 2017: International Outcome Measurement Conference, Chicago, jampress.org/iomc2017.htm|
|Oct. 13 - Nov. 10, 2017, Fri.-Fri.||On-line workshop: Practical Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com|
|Jan. 5 - Feb. 2, 2018, Fri.-Fri.||On-line workshop: Practical Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com|
|Jan. 10-16, 2018, Wed.-Tues.||In-person workshop: Advanced Course in Rasch Measurement Theory and the application of RUMM2030, Perth, Australia (D. Andrich), Announcement|
|Jan. 17-19, 2018, Wed.-Fri.||Rasch Conference: Seventh International Conference on Probabilistic Models for Measurement, Matilda Bay Club, Perth, Australia, Website|
|May 25 - June 22, 2018, Fri.-Fri.||On-line workshop: Practical Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com|
|June 29 - July 27, 2018, Fri.-Fri.||On-line workshop: Practical Rasch Measurement - Further Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com|
|Aug. 10 - Sept. 7, 2018, Fri.-Fri.||On-line workshop: Many-Facet Rasch Measurement (E. Smith, Facets), www.statistics.com|
|Oct. 12 - Nov. 9, 2018, Fri.-Fri.||On-line workshop: Practical Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com|
|The HTML to add "Coming Rasch-related Events" to your webpage is:|