DOS Rasch Analysis with Windows

Rasch analysis programs are in transition from the inflexible mainframe to the flexible personal computer. Many of us are caught in the middle. Our Rasch software acts as though input comes from punched cards and output goes to line printers, ignoring the contemporary environment of word processing, database management and spreadsheet software. Windows provides a solution for PC-Compatibles.

Most Rasch software (RS) does not support the composition of program control files or the editing of output files. Programs like Word or WordPerfect are preferred because of their search/replace and block copy/move features. Users compose or edit control files and data files in the word processor, exit to DOS, run RS, restart the word processor, view, edit, print output, prepare another analysis, return to DOS, run RS again, etc. When data originates from a spreadsheet program like Lotus, or a database management program like Foxpro, or is downloaded from a remote computer, the number of programs users must enter and exit increases.

Windows ends all that time-consuming program start up and exiting. All programs needed can be started and left resident in memory. To move from program to program, all you do is press Alt-Tab. Every time the Tab key is pressed when the Alt key is held down, a light bar at the top of the screen (or a gray box in the middle of the screen, if you're in Windows' Program Manager) registers the name of each available program in turn. Releasing the keys when the name of the program you want appears makes that program active. Another Windows option for switching between applications is to set up hot keys that cause a jump from one application to another.

When there are thousands of person records involved in database manipulations, statistical analyses, or RS runs, even fairly fast computers, like a 386/387, take time to complete analyses. There is a leap in productivity when you can switch to other programs, leaving the time-consuming programs number-crunching in the background.

Once I start Windows, along with the programs I want to use, I hit Alt-F to go to Foxpro, where I compose an ASCII data file for BIGSTEPS analysis from my 10,000 patient database. Then I hit Alt-W to go to WordPerfect to edit my control file or the data. That done, I hit Alt-B to go to a DOS window, and execute BIGSTEPS. While BIGSTEPS is working on this analysis, Alt-W takes me back to WordPerfect, where I edit or print output from a prior analysis. Edited output, such as a person measure file, can be read into SPSS (Alt-S) or SYSTAT (Alt-Y) for statistical analysis and also back into Foxpro (Alt-F) to update a database.

A Windows set-up like mine requires 8MB of RAM, 200MB of disk space, and reasonable time-slice settings. For my basic setup, with Windows' Clock and File Manager, SPSS, BIGRAM (a 640K DOS window for running BIGSTEPS and SYSTAT), WordPerfect, Foxpro, and a small RAM DOS window for simple file manipulations, I have Windows' time-slice set at 5000,250 (foreground,background). WordPerfect's is about the same, but, because I run a lot of time-consuming analyses in BIGRAM, Foxpro, and SPSS, their time-slices are 5000,5000 - they have equal proportions of CPU time no matter if they are running foreground or background. If this seems complex, contact me for detailed instructions.

The next step is a Windows-based query system for setting up control files, running Rasch software, and editing/printing output. Drop me a line if you've developed one or want to collaborate with me on one.

Window         Hot Key   Time Slice
Windows                  5000,250
  File manager
Foxpro          Alt-F    5000,5000
WordPerfect     Alt-W    5000,250
BIGRAM                   5000,5000
  BIGSTEPS      Alt-B
  SYSTAT        Alt-Y
SPSS            Alt-S    5000,5000
SMALLRAM                 5000,250
  Utilities     Alt-U

Available Rasch software is listed at

DOS Rasch Analysis with Windows, W Fisher Jr. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1992, 6:2 p. 224

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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