TitleEfficiency of Targeted Multistage Calibration Designs under Practical Constraints: A Simulation Study
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBerger, S, Verschoor, AJ, Eggen, T, Moser, U
Conference NameIACAT 2017 Conference
Date Published08/2017
PublisherNiigata Seiryo University
Conference LocationNiigata, Japan
KeywordsCAT, Efficiency, Multistage Calibration

Calibration of an item bank for computer adaptive testing requires substantial resources. In this study, we focused on two related research questions. First, we investigated whether the efficiency of item calibration under the Rasch model could be enhanced by calibration designs that optimize the match between item difficulty and student ability (Berger, 1991). Therefore, we introduced targeted multistage calibration designs, a design type that refers to a combination of traditional targeted calibration designs and multistage designs. As such, targeted multistage calibration designs consider ability-related background variables (e.g., grade in school), as well as performance (i.e., outcome of a preceding test stage) for assigning students to suitable items.

Second, we explored how limited a priori knowledge about item difficulty affects the efficiency of both targeted calibration designs and targeted multistage calibration designs. When arranging items within a given calibration design, test developers need to know the item difficulties to locate items optimally within the design. However, usually, no empirical information about item difficulty is available before item calibration. Owing to missing empirical data, test developers might fail to assign all items to the most suitable location within a calibration design.

Both research questions were addressed in a simulation study in which we varied the calibration design, as well as the accuracy of item distribution across the different booklets or modules within each design (i.e., number of misplaced items). The results indicated that targeted multistage calibration designs were more efficient than ordinary targeted designs under optimal conditions. Especially, targeted multistage calibration designs provided more accurate estimates for very easy and 52 IACAT 2017 ABSTRACTS BOOKLET very difficult items. Limited knowledge about item difficulty during test construction impaired the efficiency of all designs. The loss of efficiency was considerably large for one of the two investigated targeted multistage calibration designs, whereas targeted designs were more robust.


Berger, M. P. F. (1991). On the efficiency of IRT models when applied to different sampling designs. Applied Psychological Measurement, 15(3), 293–306. doi:10.1177/014662169101500310

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