Rating Scales and Shared Meaning

A rating scale is an aid to disciplined dialogue. Its precisely defined format focuses the conversation between the respondent and the questionnaire on the relevant areas. All respondents are invited to communicate in the shared language of the specified option choices (Low 1988).

Ambiguity and uncertainty, however, remain. First, some respondents may not use the rating scale as it was intended to be used. Choosing socially acceptable responses or falling into a response set defeat the purpose of the questionnaire. Second, respondents can only interpret a rating scale in terms of their own understandings of category labels. Lack of clear, shared category definitions invites ambiguity and idiosyncratic category use. Different interpretations lead to inconsistent use patterns.

Traditional statistical analysis, however, mistreats all rating scale observations as precise and accurate communications. Researchers seldom provide for differences in perspectives among respondents. These differences cannot be overlooked if our objective is the pursuit of useful knowledge and sound decision- making. We must recognize the various ways in which rating scale categories might be used and identify those which enable the maximum extraction of meaning. While this involves choice on the part of the analyst, "selective emphasis, choice, is inevitable whenever reflection occurs" (Dewey 1925). Because there can be no knowledge without choice, it becomes the responsibility of the analyst to develop criteria by which those choices can be made.

"Meanings do not come into being without language and language implies two selves in a conjoint or shared understanding" (Dewey 1925). Some level of ambiguity is unavoidable because language can never be exact. Nevertheless, shared meaning cannot be extracted from individual responses unless analysis can identify a common, cooperative mode of communication among all parties concerned.

Rating scale analysis must take the perspective that while a rating scale offers respondents a common language, a tool for "categorizing, ordering and representing the world" (Halliday 1969), it does not by itself make for meaningful communication. Since "meaning is located neither in the text nor in the reader but in their interaction" (Bloome & Green, 1984), we must include a step concerned with discovering, rather than asserting, meaning as we conduct our statistical analyses. Just as readers "must choose between competing interpretations of text" (Bloome & Green 1984) so must the analyst choose between different interpretations of the rating scale in order to find a coherent, shared representation of what is investigated.

A rating scale, like any other tool, "is defined by how it is used" (Halliday 1969). A focus of our analysis must be how the rating scale is actually used by respondents. We must discover which transformation of the initial rating scale categorization extracts the "maximum amount of useful [shared] meaning from the responses observed" (Wright et al. 1992).

As shared meaning develops, we establish criteria so that we do not ignore the individual, but rather provide a scoring medium through which the dissenting individual's voice may be heard more clearly. We set the stage so that individuals who do not subscribe to our construction of shared meaning can stand out and be noticed. By establishing an explicit commonality among most respondents, we enable the meaning which stems from an individual's unique interaction with an item or a group of items to emerge.

The constructive analysis of rating scale data can promote both general dialogue with the group and specific dialogue with the individual.

Bloome D, Green G (1984) Directions in the socio-linguistic theory of reading. In PD Pearson (Ed.), Handbook of Reading Research (pp 395-421). White Plains NY: Longman.

Dewey J (1925). Experience and nature. Republished in J.A. Boydston (Ed.) John Dewey: The Later Works, 19925-1953, Vol. 1. 1981. Carbondale IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

Halliday M (1969) Relevant models of language. Educational Review, 22, 1-128.

Low GD (1988) The semantics of questionnaire rating scales. Evaluation and Research in Education 2(2), 69-70.

Wright BD, Linacre JM (1992) Combining and splitting categories. RMT 6:3, 233.


Rating scales and shared meaning. Lopez WA. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1995, 9:2 p.434

Please help with Standard Dataset 4: Andrich Rating Scale Model



Rasch Publications
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

To be emailed about new material on www.rasch.org
please enter your email address here:

I want to Subscribe: & click below
I want to Unsubscribe: & click below

Please set your SPAM filter to accept emails from Rasch.org

www.rasch.org welcomes your comments:

Your email address (if you want us to reply):

 

ForumRasch 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
April 26-30, 2017, Wed.-Sun. NCME, San Antonio, TX, www.ncme.org - April 29: Ben Wright book
April 27 - May 1, 2017, Thur.-Mon. AERA, San Antonio, TX, www.aera.net
April 29, 2017, Sat., 16:35 to 18:05. NCME Presidents Invitational Symposium: a new book commemorating Ben Wright's life and career, 16:35 to 18:05, San Antonio, TX, www.ncme.org
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. In-person workshop and research coloquium: Effect size of family and school indexes in writing competence using TERCE data (C. Pardo, A. Atorressi, Winsteps), Bariloche Argentina. Carlos Pardo, Universidad Catòlica de Colombia
Aug. 7-9, 2017, Mon-Wed. PROMS 2017: Pacific Rim Objective Measurement Symposium, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia, proms.promsociety.org/2017/
Aug. 10, 2017, Thurs. In-person Winsteps Training Workshop (M. Linacre, Winsteps), Sydney, Australia. www.winsteps.com/sydneyws.htm
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:
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.rasch.org/events.txt"></script>

 

The URL of this page is www.rasch.org/rmt/rmt92k.htm

Website: www.rasch.org/rmt/contents.htm