Title page for ETD etd-03232002-155903

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Wagner, Teresa Ann
URN etd-03232002-155903
Title Critical Thinking: The Development of a New Measure
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Harvey, Robert J. Committee Chair
Crawford, Helen J. Committee Member
Donovan, John J. Committee Member
  • Critical Thinking
  • WAT
  • item response theory
  • Test development
  • IRT
Date of Defense 2002-02-27
Availability unrestricted
This study had two objectives. The first examined the degree of measurement precision seen in a leading measure of critical thinking, the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA), using item-response theory (IRT) methods. It was hypothesized that the trace lines of the WGCTA items would exhibit a floor effect at lower levels of critical thinking ability due to the high likelihood of guessing that is associated with a 2-alternative item response format. Results supported this hypothesis. The second objective sought to assess the degree to which psychometric improvements in the measurement of critical thinking (relative to the WGCTA) could be achieved via a strategy of increasing item information by making items more difficult to guess. This was evaluated using a new instrument, the Wagner Appraisal Test (WAT), based on 4-alternative multiple choice items. Results of a field study indicated that, as hypothesized, the WAT items produced lower c parameters than the WGCTA, lower standard error (SE) functions for estimating the latent trait, and larger test information functions (TIF) for the majority of the usable range of test scores (especially in the lower- and middle ranges of q). The study was performed using 407 college students at a large mid-Atlantic University. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.
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