Dichotomous Equivalents to Rating Scales

There are numerous ways to conceptualize rating scales. One useful conceptualization is to imagine that the rating scale is equivalent to a set of dichotomous items. Huynh Huynh investigated this: Huynh H. (1994) On equivalence between a partial credit item and a set of independent Rasch binary items. Psychometrika, 59, 111-119, and Huynh H. (1996) Decomposition of a Rasch partial credit item into independent binary and indecomposable trinary items. Psychometrika, 61, 31-39.

A crucial finding is that the Rasch-Andrich thresholds must advance (i.e., not exhibit "threshold disordering") for a polytomy to have the mathematical properties of a set of dichotomies. But merely advancing is not enough.

Consider a polytomy with m+1 ordinally advancing categories. There are m transition points, so this could be conceptualized as m dichotomies. As the Rasch-Andrich thresholds for the polytomy become further apart then the set of dichotomous items would have a wider difficulty range. The boundary condition is that the m dichotomies be of equal difficulty. Then a score of k on the polytomous item would be equivalent to scoring k on m equally-difficulty dichotomies.

A set of equally difficulty dichotomies constitute a set of Bernoulli (binomial) trials. The polytomous Rasch model for this is (with the familiar notation):

This provides the lower limits by which Rasch-Andrich thresholds must advance in order that a polytomy have the same mathematical properties as a set of dichotomies. A useful rule-of-thumb is "thresholds must advance by one-logit". The exact values are tabulated below.

John Michael Linacre

Minimum Rasch-Andrich threshold advances for a polytomy to be equivalent to a set of dichotomies
Thresholds:------Categories:1 to 22 to 33 to 44 to 55 to 66 to 77 to 88 to 99 to 10

Dichotomous Equivalents to Rating Scales, Linacre J.M. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 2006, 20:1 p. 1052

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
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