A Measure of Quality

Excerpted from "The Ideas of the University", a compilation of the winning answers in a contest asking readers to write about important ideas associated with the University of Chicago. Of the 12 winners, only two related to Professors then still active at the University, Ben Wright and Mike Csikszentmihalyi of "Flow" fame. This winning entry was entitled "A Measure of Quality", and appeared in "The University of Chicago Magazine", 1992, 84:4, 25.

Without the University of Chicago, there would be no fundamental measurement in social science. Why has there been almost no progress in understanding and solving social problems in the last 100 years? Benjamin Drake Wright's diagnosis is that the fuzzy nature of data in the social sciences inhibits clarity of thought. To Wright, PhD '57, professor in education and psychology, the difficulty lies in the fact that social science data are often counts of qualitative events (e.g., absences from school, teenage pregnancies) that lack the quantitative structure needed for meaningful, simple arithmetic. "It is almost impossible to think about numbers that are not equal-interval," Wright declares. He then proposes the obvious, deceptively simple, first step: produce better measurement - fundamental measurement. In other words, construct interval measures with the characteristics of the carpenter's yardstick, but obtained from the counts of qualitative events familiar to social scientists.

In the spring of 1960, Wright was the sole participant to attend all of a series of lectures given at the University by an obscure Danish mathematician, Georg Rasch. These lectures introduced him to the apparently incredible notion that linear quantitative measures - fundamental measurement of the type on which the physical sciences are based - can be derived from examinees' right/wrong answers to questions on intelligence tests. Wright has taken this idea further. As an internationally known exponent of fundamental measurement, he has broadened its theoretical base, widening its practical applications (the Australian educational system, medical researchers in pain and disability, and physical scientists analyzing qualitative data on river pollution levels - all employ Wright's insights), and instructing practitioners in its use.
John Michael Linacre

Measure of Quality Linacre J.M. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 2001, 15:3 p. 835

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

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