TitleEfficiency of Item Selection in CD-CAT Based on Conjunctive Bayesian Network Modeling Hierarchical attributes
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsHan, S-Y, Yoo, YJoo
Conference NameIACAT 2017 Conference
Date Published08/2017
PublisherNiigata Seiryo University
Conference LocationNiigata, Japan
KeywordsCD-CAT, Conjuctive Bayesian Network Modeling, item selection

Cognitive diagnosis models (CDM) aim to diagnosis examinee’s mastery status of multiple fine-grained skills. As new development for cognitive diagnosis methods emerges, much attention is given to cognitive diagnostic computerized adaptive testing (CD-CAT) as well. The topics such as item selection methods, item exposure control strategies, and online calibration methods, which have been wellstudied for traditional item response theory (IRT) based CAT, are also investigated in the context of CD-CAT (e.g., Xu, Chang, & Douglas, 2003; Wang, Chang, & Huebner, 2011; Chen et al., 2012).

In CDM framework, some researchers suggest to model structural relationship between cognitive skills, or namely, attributes. Especially, attributes can be hierarchical, such that some attributes must be acquired before the subsequent ones are mastered. For example, in mathematics, addition must be mastered before multiplication, which gives a hierarchy model for addition skill and multiplication skill. Recently, new CDMs considering attribute hierarchies have been suggested including the Attribute Hierarchy Method (AHM; Leighton, Gierl, & Hunka, 2004) and the Hierarchical Diagnostic Classification Models (HDCM; Templin & Bradshaw, 2014).

Bayesian Networks (BN), the probabilistic graphical models representing the relationship of a set of random variables using a directed acyclic graph with conditional probability distributions, also provide an efficient framework for modeling the relationship between attributes (Culbertson, 2016). Among various BNs, conjunctive Bayesian network (CBN; Beerenwinkel, Eriksson, & Sturmfels, 2007) is a special kind of BN, which assumes partial ordering between occurrences of events and conjunctive constraints between them.

In this study, we propose using CBN for modeling attribute hierarchies and discuss the advantage of CBN for CDM. We then explore the impact of the CBN modeling on the efficiency of item selection methods for CD-CAT when the attributes are truly hierarchical. To this end, two simulation studies, one for fixed-length CAT and another for variable-length CAT, are conducted. For each studies, two attribute hierarchy structures with 5 and 8 attributes are assumed. Among the various item selection methods developed for CD-CAT, six algorithms are considered: posterior-weighted Kullback-Leibler index (PWKL; Cheng, 2009), the modified PWKL index (MPWKL; Kaplan, de la Torre, Barrada, 2015), Shannon entropy (SHE; Tatsuoka, 2002), mutual information (MI; Wang, 2013), posterior-weighted CDM discrimination index (PWCDI; Zheng & Chang, 2016) and posterior-weighted attribute-level CDM discrimination index (PWACDI; Zheng & Chang, 2016). The impact of Q-matrix structure, item quality, and test termination rules on the efficiency of item selection algorithms is also investigated. Evaluation measures include the attribute classification accuracy (fixed-length experiment) and test length of CDCAT until stopping (variable-length experiment).

The results of the study indicate that the efficiency of item selection is improved by directly modeling the attribute hierarchies using CBN. The test length until achieving diagnosis probability threshold was reduced to 50-70% for CBN based CAT compared to the CD-CAT assuming independence of attributes. The magnitude of improvement is greater when the cognitive model of the test includes more attributes and when the test length is shorter. We conclude by discussing how Q-matrix structure, item quality, and test termination rules affect the efficiency.


Beerenwinkel, N., Eriksson, N., & Sturmfels, B. (2007). Conjunctive bayesian networks. Bernoulli, 893- 909.

Chen, P., Xin, T., Wang, C., & Chang, H. H. (2012). Online calibration methods for the DINA model with independent attributes in CD-CAT. Psychometrika, 77(2), 201-222.

Cheng, Y. (2009). When cognitive diagnosis meets computerized adaptive testing: CD-CAT. Psychometrika, 74(4), 619-632.

Culbertson, M. J. (2016). Bayesian networks in educational assessment: the state of the field. Applied Psychological Measurement, 40(1), 3-21.

Kaplan, M., de la Torre, J., & Barrada, J. R. (2015). New item selection methods for cognitive diagnosis computerized adaptive testing. Applied Psychological Measurement, 39(3), 167-188.

Leighton, J. P., Gierl, M. J., & Hunka, S. M. (2004). The attribute hierarchy method for cognitive assessment: a variation on Tatsuoka's rule‐space approach. Journal of Educational Measurement, 41(3), 205-237.

Tatsuoka, C. (2002). Data analytic methods for latent partially ordered classification models. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series C (Applied Statistics), 51(3), 337-350.

Templin, J., & Bradshaw, L. (2014). Hierarchical diagnostic classification models: A family of models for estimating and testing attribute hierarchies. Psychometrika, 79(2), 317-339. Wang, C. (2013). Mutual information item selection method in cognitive diagnostic computerized adaptive testing with short test length. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 73(6), 1017-1035.

Wang, C., Chang, H. H., & Huebner, A. (2011). Restrictive stochastic item selection methods in cognitive diagnostic computerized adaptive testing. Journal of Educational Measurement, 48(3), 255-273.

Xu, X., Chang, H., & Douglas, J. (2003, April). A simulation study to compare CAT strategies for cognitive diagnosis. Paper presented at the annual meeting of National Council on Measurement in Education, Chicago.

Zheng, C., & Chang, H. H. (2016). High-efficiency response distribution–based item selection algorithms for short-length cognitive diagnostic computerized adaptive testing. Applied Psychological Measurement, 40(8), 608-624.

Session Video