Item response theory analysis of the mechanics baseline test Documents
Caroline N. Cardamone,
Jonathan E. Abbott,
Daniel T. Seaton,
Andrew Pawl, and
David E. Pritchard
Item response theory is useful in both the development and evaluation of assessments and in computing standardized measures of student performance. In item response theory, individual parameters (difficulty, discrimination) for each item or question are fit by item response models. These parameters provide a means for evaluating a test and offer a better measure of student skill than a raw test score, because each skill calculation considers not only the number of questions answered correctly, but the individual properties of all questions answered. Here, we present the results from an analysis of the Mechanics Baseline Test given at MIT during 2005-2010. Using the item parameters, we identify questions on the Mechanics Baseline Test that are not effective in discriminating between MIT students of different abilities. We show that a limited subset of the highest quality questions on the Mechanics Baseline Test returns accurate measures of student skill. We compare student skills as determined by item response theory to the more traditional measurement of the raw score and show that a comparable measure of learning gain can be computed.
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Published February 6, 2012
Last Modified April 24, 2012
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