Construction Versus Choice in Cognitive Measurement: Issues in Constructed Response, Performance Testing, and Portfolio Assessment

By Randy Elliot Bennett; William C. Ward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
CONSTRUCT VALIDITY AND CONSTRUCTED-RESPONSE TESTS

Richard E. Snow Stanford University

My choice of title is meant to convey that I think the central issue for this book, and for research and development on constructed response versus multiple choice in educational tests in general, is construct validity. Messick ( 1989) defined validity as "an integrated evaluative judgment of the degree to which empirical evidence and theoretical rationales support the adequacy and appropriateness of inferences and actions based on test scores or other modes of assessment (p. 13)" and noted that "construct validity is based on an integration of any evidence that bears on the interpretation or meaning of the test scores. . . . [Specifically this] subsumes content relevance and representativeness as well as criterion-relatedness" (p. 17). So, for the purposes of this chapter, I am concerned mainly with the meaning or interpretation of scores derived from particular educational test designs.

The original title assigned to me was "Trait Equivalence: A Cognitive Perspective." But I think the terms trait and equivalence should be avoided, and I take a psychological, not just a cognitive, perspective.

First, I avoid trait because it was borrowed by early psychologists from Mendelian genetics and is to this day often misinterpreted by the public as implying a fixed, inherited characteristic. I think the term should either be abolished in psychometrics or carefully redefined to minimize the potential for public misunderstanding.

Second, I avoid equivalence because I doubt there is a clear meaning for such a concept in the psychology of educational tests; that is, in the consideration of construct validity for such tests. One can allow a concept of psycho

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