Theses Doctoral

Rater Drift in Constructed Response Scoring via Latent Class Signal Detection Theory and Item Response Theory

Park, Yoon Soo

The use of constructed response (CR) items or performance tasks to assess test takers' ability has grown tremendously over the past decade. Examples of CR items in psychological and educational measurement range from essays, works of art, and admissions interviews. However, unlike multiple-choice (MC) items that have predetermined options, CR items require test takers to construct their own answer. As such, they require the judgment of multiple raters that are subject to differences in perception and prior knowledge of the material being evaluated. As with any scoring procedure, the scores assigned by raters must be comparable over time and over different test administrations and forms; in other words, scores must be reliable and valid for all test takers, regardless of when an individual takes the test. This study examines how longitudinal patterns or changes in rater behavior affect model-based classification accuracy. Rater drift refers to changes in rater behavior across different test administrations. Prior research has found evidence of drift. Rater behavior in CR scoring is examined using two measurement models - latent class signal detection theory (SDT) and item response theory (IRT) models. Rater effects (e.g., leniency and strictness) are partly examined with simulations, where the ability of different models to capture changes in rater behavior is studied. Drift is also examined in two real-world large scale tests: teacher certification test and high school writing test. These tests use the same set of raters for long periods of time, where each rater's scoring is examined on a monthly basis. Results from the empirical analysis showed that rater models were effective to detect changes in rater behavior over testing administrations in real-world data. However, there were differences in rater discrimination between the latent class SDT and IRT models. Simulations were used to examine the effect of rater drift on classification accuracy and on differences between the latent class SDT and IRT models. Changes in rater severity had only a minimal effect on classification. Rater discrimination had a greater effect on classification accuracy. This study also found that IRT models detected changes in rater severity and in rater discrimination even when data were generated from the latent class SDT model. However, when data were non-normal, IRT models underestimated rater discrimination, which may lead to incorrect inferences on the precision of raters. These findings provide new and important insights into CR scoring and issues that emerge in practice, including methods to improve rater training.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Measurement and Evaluation
Thesis Advisors
DeCarlo, Lawrence
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 17, 2011