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An Introduction to Modern Measurement Theory

An Introduction to Modern Measurement Theory

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Published by: AZOGTHOTH on Aug 15, 2011
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The three-parameter logistic model (3PL; Lord, 1980) was developed in educational

testing to extend the application of item response theory to multiple choice items that may elicit

guessing. For item i, the three-parameter logistic trace line is:

( )

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(

7.
1

exp[

1

1

1

i

i

i

i

i

i

b

ac

c

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T


+ −

+

=

=

θ

θ

.

The guessing parameter c is the probability of a positive response to item i even if the person

does not know the answer. When c = 0, the three-parameter model is equivalent to the 2PL

model. Including the guessing parameter changes the interpretation of other parameters in the

model. The threshold parameter b is the value of theta at which respondents have a (.5 +

.5c)*(100)% chance of responding correctly to the item (Thissen & Orlando, 2001).

0.00

0.25

0.50

0.75

1.00

-3

-2

-1

0

1

2

3

θ

Figure 6 Three Parameter Logistic Model (1 item)

Figure 6 presents a 3PL model trace line for one item. Survey respondents low on the underlying

trait have a 20 percent probability (c = .2) of endorsing the item.

The interpretation of the guessing parameter for multiple choice tests in educational

measurement is straightforward, but can be vague in health measurement. In most health-related

measurement research, the guessing parameter is left out, thus opting for the 2PL model.

However, the guessing parameter may provide insightful information to understanding the

20

behavior of participants in the questionnaire. There may be a considerable proportion of

participants in the survey who may respond positively to an item for other reasons besides the

trait being measured. In ability testing (in an educational context), it is usually assumed that

respondents will usually inflate their abilities by guessing at the right answer. However in self-

report surveys, respondents may over report desirable behaviors or attitudes, and underreport

painful or embarrassing behaviors (Schaeffer, 1988). In other words, persons may be motivated

to conceal their true trait level by claiming to have or not have symptoms.

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