Breaking free from the limitations of classical test theory : Developing and measuring information systems scales using item response theory

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalNot applicablepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations
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Author(s)

  • Thomas Rusch
  • Paul Benjamin Lowry
  • Patrick Mair
  • Horst Treiblmaier

Related Research Unit(s)

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-203
Journal / PublicationInformation and Management
Volume54
Issue number2
Early online date7 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Abstract

Information systems (IS) research frequently uses survey data to measure the interplay between technological systems and human beings. Researchers have developed sophisticated procedures to build and validate multi-item scales that measure latent constructs. The vast majority of IS studies uses classical test theory (CTT), but this approach suffers from three major theoretical shortcomings: (1) it assumes a linear relationship between the latent variable and observed scores, which rarely represents the empirical reality of behavioral constructs; (2) the true score can either not be estimated directly or only by making assumptions that are difficult to be met; and (3) parameters such as reliability, discrimination, location, or factor loadings depend on the sample being used. To address these issues, we present item response theory (IRT) as a collection of viable alternatives for measuring continuous latent variables by means of categorical indicators (i.e., measurement variables). IRT offers several advantages: (1) it assumes nonlinear relationships; (2) it allows more appropriate estimation of the true score; (3) it can estimate item parameters independently of the sample being used; (4) it allows the researcher to select items that are in accordance with a desired model; and (5) it applies and generalizes concepts such as reliability and internal consistency, and thus allows researchers to derive more information about the measurement process. We use a CTT approach as well as Rasch models (a special class of IRT models) to demonstrate how a scale for measuring hedonic aspects of websites is developed under both approaches. The results illustrate how IRT can be successfully applied in IS research and provide better scale results than CTT. We conclude by explaining the most appropriate circumstances for applying IRT, as well as the limitations of IRT.

Research Area(s)

  • Classical test theory, Hedonic IS, Hedonism, Item response theory, Measurement, Measures, Rasch model, Reliability, Scale development

Citation Format(s)

Breaking free from the limitations of classical test theory : Developing and measuring information systems scales using item response theory. / Rusch, Thomas; Lowry, Paul Benjamin; Mair, Patrick; Treiblmaier, Horst.

In: Information and Management, Vol. 54, No. 2, 03.2017, p. 189-203.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalNot applicablepeer-review