Book Review: Constructing Measures: An Item Response Modeling Approach

The expert Rasch modelers have truly begun the necessary effort to explain and teach the basics to front-line professionals. Mark Wilson (2005, Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.) has joined Bond & Fox (2002) to help fill the gap of useful introductory material to teach with, their predecessor, Best Test Design, was published in the 1970's! Constructing Measures is aimed at a first course in measurement, but makes every effort to be consistent with the Rasch model and still remain true (pun intended) to the history of measurement in the 20th century.

By proposing a reasonable and understandable scheme of construct modeling using "building blocks", the book is an excellent primer for a basic measurement course. The introduction of construct maps in chapter 2 is subtle and leads easily to recognizable ruler output from Rasch software. The item-design chapter mentions levels of specificity, but stops a little short on the discussion of mixed item types as part of a single instrument.

Outcome space (chapter 4) moves from Likert items to phenomenography to the SOLO taxonomy to Guttman. To me, this would be ordered better (sorry, I can't help it) by moving Guttman adjacent to Likert. Chapters 5 and 6 introduce the Rasch model with excellent explanations, appropriate historical references, and plenty of graphs. In chapter 5, I kept expecting a mention of conjoint probabilities but that never appeared.

The concept of logits as units also tiptoes in without much discussion. Between all the other italicized concepts and definitions, this seems a little understated. The basic equations and examples are solid. Almost all the math is in the middle chapters, and most classes will have to slow down here even though the CD that accompanies the text is an excellent teaching tool.

Chapter 6 compares the Rasch model to the 2PL-IRT model and provides a very good rational for model choice. The discussion of fit is adequate and introduction of Kidmaps is a plus. Explaining Keyforms to novices has often been the downfall of otherwise excellent presentations for me. Chapter 6 misses an opportunity to mention MFRM as a model, and the book again emphasizes classical reliability coefficients in chapter 7 without discussing Facets for rater effect estimates. Given the previous coverage of discrimination functions and fit, Facets would be no more difficult to comprehend.

The text's return to Construct Maps in chapter 8 on validity is appropriate. The traditional reliability treatment contrasts with the lack of mention of "criterion-related validity" which students are likely to see in other places and so wonder where it is. The introduction of DIF is good. Chapter 9 ends the book with some philosophy (situative), some psychology (cognitive), and some statistics (hierarchical). This chapter has some applied examples that would interest students if the "adding complexity" section doesn't ambush them first.

Packaged with a useful CD, this book would be good for students who had a prior research or basic statistics class, and needed a step-by-step approach to creating a test. Overall, Mark Wilson has obviously worked hard to create understandable examples and a practical process for students to build a test from start to finish. The book accomplishes exactly that with a logical process and basic explanations. As the preface suggests, the text is aimed at active learning by doing, and it would be a shame to use it otherwise.

Steve Lang
University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Book Review: Constructing Measures: An Item Response Modeling Approach. Lang S. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 2005, 19:3 p. 1027

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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