Generating Truth from Fiction

Generating truth from fiction. Fisher WP Jr. … 8:4 p.401

The wisdom of creative Rasch measurement is the same as that which Milan Kundera calls the "wisdom of the [literary] novel ... the fascinating imaginative realm where no one owns the truth and everyone has the right to be understood" (quoted by Richard Rorty in the April 1994 University of Chicago Magazine, p. 23).

Data appear to be facts, just as words appear to be facts. In unimaginative practice, tests are taken to define the variable in and of themselves, so no imaginative realm is opened up. Test content is considered sacrosanct, of predetermined validity, so the truth of a test is owned by whomever wrote or published it. These same people are the only ones who have the right to be understood, since they set the rules, referee and control the scoreboard.

But just as a novel, the world we construct from words, is a fiction, so is the world we construct from data. Data are fictions that provide evidence in support of measures, but do not determine or prove them. To the extent that data enable learning about people and ideas, they open fascinating imaginative realms.

No one, not even the test designer nor the person with the highest measure, can know all there is to know about the variable. The variable and the measures always remain open to new interpretations. Indeed, the notion of item-free measurement could be taken to follow from the intuition that the universe of items embodying a particular construct is not only potentially infinite, but continuously revealing.

Since it is impossible to administer or even conceive all of the items on a variable, we must recognize that each individual instrument is just one interpretation of the variable, to be evaluated in terms of its targeting and the consistency of the data it produces. Data consistency becomes the means by which everyone's right to be heard and understood is realized.

So, imaginative interpretation of a Rasch analysis is a matter of asking what story is told by the data. What's the plot? Who are the characters? What's the setting? Is there a subplot? Is there a single overall theme, or does the story try to go in too many directions at once? Thus, as with the careful construction of a work of fiction, contemporary problems can become more manageable and hope for the future can be born.

Generating truth from fiction. Fisher WP Jr. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1995, 8:4 p.401

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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