Using Item Calibrations to Improve Teacher Education

Introductory science courses in Schools of Education stress a variety of teacher training topics. Two topic's central to most classes are the teaching implications of Piaget's theories and the art of questioning. Unfortunately undergraduates have difficulty understanding the classroom application of these topics. To help education majors at Indiana University better understand cognitive theories and questioning techniques, two item maps constructed with Rasch scaled test items are used.

These teacher training "item maps" (Figures 1 and 2) resemble Woodcock's KeyMath plots. The first item map uses five items from a 90 question 4th grade science test. All the items require objects to be ordered. This item map exposes undergraduates to real test items which real students had answered and provides an immediate picture of how test items involving types of "ordering" compare. The item map allows these future teachers to "see" that although "length" might be more easily comprehended than "volume", a "volume" ordering problem (#48) is not always more difficult for elementary students than a "length" ordering problem (#50 and #51).

Student teachers are also surprised that the bean plant item (#7) which requires appreciation of "growth" and "time" is not more difficult than the "volume" food jar item (#48).

Education courses for teachers expose them to lectures and readings reminding them to consider carefully how questions should be posed in a classroom. To help teachers think more deeply about question formulation, a second item map uses four other items from the science test.

Undergraduates are asked to explain the ordering and spacing of questions on this item map. They see items #22 and #23 are easier than items #85 and #87 because the number of options varies. Several have commented that although it might seem common sense, the map shows that teachers change the difficulties of their questions by the number of options they use.

The ease with which undergraduates use these two item maps shows that presenting calibrated items on a variable line can be a valuable tool for teachers in training. Students use the item ordering and spacing to think about the real life classroom application of a college text's educational theories.

Item:    #48   #7     #47                  #51             #50
Logit: -1.67 -1.62  -1.08                -.06              .82
          !!         !                    !                !
  -2        -1.5      -1        -.5        0         .5        1
   Easy Items                                         Hard Items

Figure 1. Teacher Education Item Map #1.

Hardest Item

Item #50 (Difficulty .82 logits)
[Four pictures of different potted plants with leaves.]
Arrange plants in order from longest leaves to shortest leaves.

Item #51 (Difficulty -.06 logits)
[Four pictures of snails and their trails. The trails are symbolized
with a line of dots.]
What is the order of these snail trails if they are arranged from longest to shortest?

Item #47 (Difficulty -1.08 logits)
[Four pictures of glasses filled with water.]
These glasses are the same size. Order them from fullest to least full glass.

Item #7 (Difficulty -1.62 logits)
[Four pictures of a bean plant. Structure above and below ground is shown.]
Order the pictures according to the life cycle of a bean plant.

Item #48 (Difficulty -1.67 logits)
[Four jars of food.]
These food jars are the same size. Order them from greatest to least amount of food.

Easiest Item

 Item:   #22               #23     #85  #87
Logit: -1.90              -.79    -.42 -.16
     !                     !       !    !
   -2        -1.5      -1        -.5        0         .5        1
   Easy Items                                         Hard Items

Figure 2. Teacher Education Item Map #2

Hardest Item

Item 87 (Difficulty -.16)
Which is light and smooth: basketball? tennis ball? bowling ball? ping pong ball?

Item 85 (Difficulty -.42)
Which is wet and can be poured: water in a glass? ice cube? salt shaker? ice cream cone?

Item 23 (Difficulty -.79)
Which object is small, hard,, and sharp: window? penny? thumb tack? flower?

Item 22 (Difficulty -1.90)
What is cold, hard, and wet: milk? brick? soup? ice?

Easiest Item

Using item calibrations to improve teacher education. Boone WJ. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1992, 5:4 p.180

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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