, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 191-207

The person response function as a tool in person-fit research

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Item responses that do not fit an item response theory (IRT) model may cause the latent trait value to be inaccurately estimated. In the past two decades several statistics have been proposed that can be used to identify nonfitting item score patterns. These statistics all yieldscalar values. Here, the use of the person response function (PRF) for identifying nonfitting item score patterns was investigated. The PRF is afunction and can be used for diagnostic purposes. First, the PRF is defined in a class of IRT models that imply an invariant item ordering. Second, a person-fit method proposed by Trabin & Weiss (1983) is reformulated in a nonparametric IRT context assuming invariant item ordering, and statistical theory proposed by Rosenbaum (1987a) is adapted to test locally whether a PRF is nonincreasing. Third, a simulation study was conducted to compare the use of the PRF with the person-fit statistic ZU3. It is concluded that the PRF can be used as a diagnostic tool in person-fit research.

The authors are grateful to Coen A. Bernaards for preparing the figures used in this article, and to Wilco H.M. Emons for checking the calculations.