Bayesian item-selection criteria for adaptive testing

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Owen (1975) proposed an approximate empirical Bayes procedure for item selection in computerized adaptive testing (CAT). The procedure replaces the true posterior by a normal approximation with closed-form expressions for its first two moments. This approximation was necessary to minimize the computational complexity involved in a fully Bayesian approach but is no longer necessary given the computational power currently available for adaptive testing. This paper suggests several item selection criteria for adaptive testing which are all based on the use of the true posterior. Some of the statistical properties of the ability estimator produced by these criteria are discussed and empirically characterized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-216
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Item response theory (IRT)
  • Bayesian statistics
  • Adaptive testing
  • Item selection criteria


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