# Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey, PhD University of California, Berkeley

## Presentation on theme: "Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey, PhD University of California, Berkeley"— Presentation transcript:

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey, PhD University of California, Berkeley rick@mustardseedbooks.org

The Amazonification of Knowledge  How does Amazon know what books you’ll enjoy reading?  Amazon has no theoretical framework to distinguish between hundreds of potential recommendations based on genre or style.  Analyzing the data from millions of sales with similar reading patterns Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org

What percentage of the area of the square is covered by the circle? Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org

How to Know Something Without Knowing Anything About It  Remember back to your 5th grade math, calculating the area of a square, circle and calculating a ratio.  If you know the right formula, it’s easy and a mathematician could even explain why it works. Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org

How to Know Something Without Knowing Anything About It  But pretend for a moment you didn’t know the formulas, didn’t know how to calculate ratios.  Is there another way to solve the problem? Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org

Simulate the Answer with Scratch  Draw a square 4” x 4”  Draw a circle 2” diameter w/different color  Have the computer draw random sprites  Count what colors they land on Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org

What is IRT?  First and foremost, IRT (as with classical test theory) is about assessment, not instruction.  Adaptive testing - some questions are rated easier or harder than others, so the test has a better ability to differentiate student ability than a generic test.  Most developed statistical model for interactively measuring item difficulty and student ability. Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Item - Response - Theory  Item – questions on a survey, math problems, multiple choice questions on SAT  Response – easily quantifiable, usually right/wrong, can have partial credit.  Theory – hypothesizing a construct (e.g. intelligence, love of art, etc.) that can be measured.

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Understand by example - Are you a tech junkie?  Do you own a computer?  Do you own a smart phone?  Do you own two or more tablets?  Have you ever tried Google glasses?

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Participants Items Have tried Google glasses Bill Gates grandma Average teenager Own a computer Own a smart phone Own 2+ tablets Luddite Tech junkie

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org What could IRT offer reading researchers?  Quantitative measure of word difficulty  Improved accuracy in determining student reading ability from assessments  Reliability measures (item and test level)

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org How do researchers estimate word difficulty?  Ehri (2005) Earliest and simplest  Beck, McKeown & Kucan (2002) Word Tiers  Hiebert, Stewart & Uzicanin (2010) Word Features and Word Recognition  Fountas & Pinnell – Guided Reading  MetaMetrics – Lexile Scoring System

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org What are the basics we know?  Shorter words easier than longer words  Fewer syllables are easier  Higher frequency words are easier  Highly imageable words are easier  A quantitative measure of word difficulty could be highly useful

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Testing the Idea  One school, two 1 st grade classes, (n=75)  Data from two years of DIBELS assessments Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) assessment  First 40 words of four different ORF assessments  Simple IRT analysis marking incorrectly read words as incorrect responses (no partial credit)

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Findings  Quantitative measures of word difficulty and student reading ability  Strong correlations (r between.54 and.72) for basics of word difficulty  Potential measure for text reliability  Identifies words that defy expectations  Provides potential model for analyzing the impact of context on word difficulty

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Findings – Word Difficulty TextWordLtrsDifficulty ORF 1B-36 waiting 7 3.66 ORF 1A-6 outside 7 3.41 ORF 1B-3 mind 4 2.93 ORF 2A-21 spot 4 1.81 ORF 2A-29 got 3 0.28 ORF 1B-32 fish 4 -1.65 ORF 1B-1 I 1 -3.12

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Findings – Strange Cases  “First we picked a spot far from the big waves” -- guess the word with the highest item difficulty score?  3 letters, fairly easy phonetically, but easily confused with for  ¼ of the hardest 20 words had 3-4 letters, one syllable and were phonetically regular  Yellow, castle, anymore, all easier than traits would indicate

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Findings – Context Effect  A six letter, two syllable word with an unusual spelling pattern is missed by only 2 students, difficulty score -1.01  “We built a giant sand castle at the beach.”  Built scored 2.85 difficult and giant was one of the top 5 hardest words at 3.34  Fish tank and rocky road, no such luck

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Findings – Context Possibilities  Compare instances of reading same words in different contexts (starting a sentence, in subordinate clause, etc.)  Compare instances of words with suffixes (lick, licks, licked, licking)  Compare the effects of background knowledge on word difficulty scores

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Findings – Text Reliability  Use of Chronbach’s alpha to measure reliability of a given text for assessing student reading ability  Each of the four passages scored.97 or higher  Few words across the four passages had poor fit

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Conclusions  IRT provides researchers with a quantitative method for assessing word difficulty that can be used in a wide variety of research designs.  IRT offers useful information for text designers attempting to design and redesign increasingly complicated texts that comply with common core standards.  IRT offers a window into the brave new world of big data, suggesting new ideas about literacy development we don't necessarily understand but would be wise to consider.

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org Leveled Texts 3.0 -- www.mustardseedbooks.org

Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey - LRA 2013 rick@mustardseedbooks.org For a copy of the presentation or questions contact: Rick Chan Frey, PhD rick@mustardseedbooks.org www.mustardseedbooks.org

Download ppt "Perspectives on Word Difficulty Using Item Response Theory Rick Chan Frey, PhD University of California, Berkeley"

Similar presentations