Review of Objective Measurement: Theory into Practice

Challenging! Edifying! Inspiring! Editor Mark Wilson is to be congratulated for the range and depth of material contained in this 346 page book. Though the Fifth International Objective Measurement Workshop (IOMW5, Berkeley CA, March 1989) is but a memory, the papers presented there take on fresh life as 19 chapters in this well- produced Volume.

In Chapter 2, Ben Wright escorts us through the development of Rasch techniques from those early seminars in Denmark, via the five IOMWs, up to what promises to be the basis for Volume 2 of this series, IOMW6. Progess is evident: in the early years, they struggled with the theory of "objective measurement" and battled to construct measures from even the simplest data. Now the theory is well established; there are a plethora of good computer programs, and the challenge is to apply Rasch techniques to ever more complex data in ever wider fields of study.

At the same time the research into fundamentals continues. In Chapter 3, William Fisher describes how the endeavor to untangle the Gordian knot of objectivity goes back to Pythagoras and Plato, and yet is still an issue in the modern writing of Gadamer and Husserl. Rasch provides the sword to cut the knot - which Fisher demonstrates with the simplest Rasch analysis in the entire Volume.

Skipping ahead to the mathematical and statistical chapters, it is a delight that nearly every algebraic exposition focusses on the solution of a tangible measurement problem. The solutions provided enable the benefits of objective measurement to be realized in yet broader areas of application. In Chapter 12, Linacre extends the Rasch model to rank-order data. Though his discussion of paired comparisons parallels the Bradley-Terry model (which he fails to acknowledge), it is telling that its linear form has generally been regarded as a descriptive curiosity. This chapter shows that the linear form is essential to its use as a measurement model. Both Linacre's chapter and Chapter 13, Jannarone's discussion of conjunctive measurement theory send objective measurement in new and unexpected directions.

Unfortunately, the authors of the last four chapters (16-19) become so involved in statistical elegance as to lose sight of measurement. This burdens the reader with discerning how to apply those ideas in a measurement context. Since the authors of all chapters are clearly able to produce the highest quality work, let us hope that the editor of Volume 2 helps them to maintain their focus on measurement.

The most valuable chapters for many readers will be the applications of Rasch techniques in chapters 4-11. Though multiple-choice data may now seem routine, its potential as a foundation for useful measurement is still expanding. Chapter 9 by Schulz et al. contains many insights into the benefits and precautions associated with vertical equating of MCQ tests. In Chapter 11, Gershon presents a neat statistical analysis and thought-provoking plots showing the effects of order of presentation of easy and hard items on test anxiety.

The main emphasis in the applications is on the construction of variables in psychology and physiology. These challenge instrument designer and analyst to collaborate to construct measures for traits which are initially poorly understood. The success of researchers, such as Ludlow and Haley on the Tufts Assessment of Motor Performance in Chapter 8, is testimony that Rasch analysis is so solid that it can be taken for granted as a tool, releasing the real mental effort for understanding the variable and constructing measures on it.

The book is beautifully produced with a comprehensive author index, but rather skimpy subject index. The figures are clear and informative. The major trends in Rasch analysis today are graphical techniques and the communication of results to unsophisticated end- users. I urge that these be featured in Volume 2!

Even if you don't purchase this Volume yourself, recommend it to your library. This book contains more good Rasch material in one volume than the last 5 years of all professional journals combined. Good sales will also encourage Ablex to publish Volume 2 more promptly than they did Volume 1.

Objective Measurement: Theory into Practice, Volume 1, 1992, edited by Mark Wilson, is available from Ablex Books, 355 Chestnut Street, Norwood NJ 07648-2090.

Review of Objective Measurement: Theory into Practice. J Linacre. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1992, 5:4 p.192

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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