Measurement theory timeline

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  • Lecture 1 EPSY 625


  • 2000BCE 400BCE 800AD 1800AD 1900AD 2000AD
  • Chinese Greek European Stat- Measure-
  • Exams system univ. exam istics meant

1000 BC Chinese civil service exam

  • Democratic in principle: anyone could sit for the exam
  • limitation: opportunity to learn; access to schooling low for peasants
  • many modern issues:
    • reliability: test-retest, interrater agreement
    • validity: content, face, predictive
    • test formats: written vs. oral


  • Greek emphasis on oral examination
  • Roman emulation of Greek systems (used Greek slaves as teachers for private tutoring)
  • Carryover to European university systems created about 800 AD- 1800
    • Oral examinations for degrees- paper was very expensive
  • Arabic university systems somewhat like European systems in 1000-1500AD

1800 Error of Measurement - astronomy & gambling

  • Discovery of Normal distribution
    • scoring agreement among astronomers; disagreements as poor work vs. individual differences
    • gambling with dice or cards: statistics and probability were invented- gambling noblemen wanted an edge

1850 Wundt's lab - physiological measurement


  • Cheap paper and lead pencil invented in 1840s
  • Written essay advocated by American educators such as Horace Mann
  • Reduction in emphasis on oral presentation, recitation
  • Essay examination becomes important

1880 Galton's anthropometry human physical measurement

  • Measurement of human physiognomy
  • notion of relationships among variables:
    • correlation and causation:
      • ratio scaling led to Pearson’s correlation
      • nominal scaling led to chi square association

1890 reaction time, "mental test"

  • J.M. Cattell - child intelligence
  • Binet - Simon - “ : individual testing
    • developmental perspective
    • deviation at an age compared to cross-age development
  • factor analysis - Spearman; concept of construct underlying observed measurement

1905 educational psychology - Thorndike

  • learning and assessment
  • First educational psychology text- 1906
  • 1914 text topics:
    • The Original Nature of Man
    • The Psychology of Learning
    • Individual Differences and Their Causes
      • sex and race
      • ancestry (genetics) or family etc.

1920s Group testing

  • IQ testing from WW I
    • need to classify men efficiently for military duties
    • need to assess large numbers: group testing
  • attitude assessment - Thurstone - Chave
  • Fisher ANOVA (beginning of experimental design)

1930s Theory development

  • Thurstone and Likert: assessment of affect, methodology
  • KR-20, Rulon, etc. internal consistency
  • Spearman-Brown: prediction of test characteristics

1940s More theory

  • Hoyt’s reliability using ANOVA
  • Guttman scaling of attitude
  • Decision theory and WWII


  • Computer-based analysis
  • Cronbach’s alpha- pulling theory together
  • construct validity - Cronbach, Meehl
  • multitrait-multimethod validity - MacCorquodale

1960s Computers and statistics

  • latent trait theory- Rasch
  • formalized true score theory - Lord & Novick
  • covariance structure analysis - Jorekog
  • multidimensional scaling - Torgeson
  • latent partition analysis - Wiley


  • generalizability theory- Cronbach
  • criterion-referenced testing (CRT)
  • bias in testing theory, differential item function (DIF)
  • 2- and 3- parameter latent trait models - Lord
  • statewide assessments: “minimum competency”

1980s multitrait linear logistic model - Embretson

  • Multitrait linear logistic model- Embretson
  • Item-individual interaction: cognitive function task demand item function (Mislevy, Willson)
  • Development of testing standards

1990s Web-based assessment

  • Automated response: web testing, computer adaptive testing
  • AI systems
  • widespread use of measurement model in quantitative theory (Structural equation modeling)
  • accountability systems based on testing


  • No Child Left Behind
  • Multilevel modeling (HLM)
  • Federal testing requirements for US States
  • Great demands on testing industry to develop many tests

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