Item Analysis with Small Samples

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Traditional item analysis centers on the char acteristics of individual items, typically on the item's level of difficulty and discrimination power. In constructing new tests, attempts are therefore made to obtain large samples of subjects in order to decrease the standard error of measurement of the item's characteristics. However, there are com mon test situations in which the exact parameters of individual items are not of much importance. Rather, the focus of interest is on the position of the items in relation to one another or in relation to some critical statistical value. Five such test situa tions are described. Quasi-simulations of item analyses were performed to determine the optimal sample sizes required in such test situations. These simulations consisted of analyzing responses of 5,200 university applicants, each of whom com pleted three different multiple-choice tests. Sample sizes of 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, and 1,024 were chosen; and for each size, eight samples were ran domly drawn from the population of applicants. For three of five different indices of accuracy that were employed, the results showed that the sample size needed for the pretest stage in test construction is considerably smaller than the traditionally rec ommended size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Psychological Measurement
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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