Objectivity: Specific and General

Objectivity is a cornerstone of all measurement. It requires that agent calibrations (e.g. item difficulties) be independent of the sample of objects (e.g. persons) used in the calibration procedure. Object measures must also be independent of the particular agents used to obtain them. Thurstone (1928) stated: "...the scale values of the statements of opinion must be as free as possible, and preferably entirely free, from the actual opinion of individuals or groups." As Wright & Stone (1979) remark, Loevinger (1947) offered a similar formulation as a criterion for absolute scaling, but it was Rasch (1961) who made what he called "specific objectivity" the central requirement of a new approach to measurement.

Specific objectivity requires that differences between pairs of object measures or pairs of agent calibrations are sample independent. This means that two agents must be found to differ by the same (i.e. a statistically equivalent) number of measurement units no matter what sample of objects actually responds to the agents. Similarly, two objects must be found to differ by the same number of units no matter what sample of agents (from the universe of relevant agents) is used in the measurement procedure. In other words, the relative locations of pairs of objects and pairs of agents on the underlying continuum must be sample independent.

General objectivity, essentially attained by measures in physics and chemistry (e.g. thermometers), requires that the absolute location of an object on, say, the Celsius scale, is sample independent. Temperature theory is well enough developed that routine manufacture of thermometers occurs without even checking the calibrations against objects with known values prior to shipping the instruments to customers. Such is our collective confidence in temperature theory. We know enough about liquid expansion coefficients, the gas laws, glass conductivity and fluid viscosity to construct a remarkably precise measurement with recourse only to theory. Measurement of the temperature of two objects results in not just sample independence for the difference between their temperatures, but sample independence for the point estimate of each object's temperature reading. It does not matter what thermometer we use, or how it was constructed, the Celsius value will be the same.

The difference between specific and general objectivity is seen not to be a consequence of the fundamental natures of the social and physical sciences, nor to be a necessary outcome of the method of making observations, but to be entirely a matter of the level of sophistication of the theory underlying the construction of the particular measurement instruments.

Note: For our early attempt to relate Cronbach and Meehl and Messick's later integration to the Rasch model see Stenner,A.J., Smith,M. and Burdick, D.S. " Toward a theory of construct definition" Journal of Educational Measurement, 1983,20,4, 305-316. It was in part an interest in the relationships between construct validity and Rasch measurement that led to the Lexile Framework for Reading.

Objectivity: Specific and General, J Stenner … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1990, 4:3 p. 111

Rasch-Related Resources: Rasch Measurement YouTube Channel
Rasch Measurement Transactions & Rasch Measurement research papers - free An Introduction to the Rasch Model with Examples in R (eRm, etc.), Debelak, Strobl, Zeigenfuse Rasch Measurement Theory Analysis in R, Wind, Hua Applying the Rasch Model in Social Sciences Using R, Lamprianou El modelo métrico de Rasch: Fundamentación, implementación e interpretación de la medida en ciencias sociales (Spanish Edition), Manuel González-Montesinos M.
Rasch Models: Foundations, Recent Developments, and Applications, Fischer & Molenaar Probabilistic Models for Some Intelligence and Attainment Tests, Georg Rasch Rasch Models for Measurement, David Andrich Constructing Measures, Mark Wilson Best Test Design - free, Wright & Stone
Rating Scale Analysis - free, Wright & Masters
Virtual Standard Setting: Setting Cut Scores, Charalambos Kollias Diseño de Mejores Pruebas - free, Spanish Best Test Design A Course in Rasch Measurement Theory, Andrich, Marais Rasch Models in Health, Christensen, Kreiner, Mesba Multivariate and Mixture Distribution Rasch Models, von Davier, Carstensen
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Applying the Rasch Model (Winsteps, Facets) 4th Ed., Bond, Yan, Heene Advances in Rasch Analyses in the Human Sciences (Winsteps, Facets) 1st Ed., Boone, Staver Advances in Applications of Rasch Measurement in Science Education, X. Liu & W. J. Boone Rasch Analysis in the Human Sciences (Winsteps) Boone, Staver, Yale Appliquer le modèle de Rasch: Défis et pistes de solution (Winsteps) E. Dionne, S. Béland
Introduction to Many-Facet Rasch Measurement (Facets), Thomas Eckes Rasch Models for Solving Measurement Problems (Facets), George Engelhard, Jr. & Jue Wang Statistical Analyses for Language Testers (Facets), Rita Green Invariant Measurement with Raters and Rating Scales: Rasch Models for Rater-Mediated Assessments (Facets), George Engelhard, Jr. & Stefanie Wind Aplicação do Modelo de Rasch (Português), de Bond, Trevor G., Fox, Christine M
Exploring Rating Scale Functioning for Survey Research (R, Facets), Stefanie Wind Rasch Measurement: Applications, Khine Winsteps Tutorials - free
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Many-Facet Rasch Measurement (Facets) - free, J.M. Linacre Fairness, Justice and Language Assessment (Winsteps, Facets), McNamara, Knoch, Fan

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