Basic terms used in "measurement"

<< Click to Display Table of Contents >>

Navigation:  Coming to terms >

Basic terms used in "measurement"

Previous pageReturn to chapter overviewNext page



"Items" is a term which means questions -- measurement people prefer to use this term instead of using the word "questions".


When analyzing the results from a test, we often engage in a procedure which is called "item analysis", something I will talk much more about later on.




Tests are composed of items. (That probably doesn't surprise you.)


cognitive tests


These are tests of knowledge, or "cognition". They may be quite short, in which case they are often called "quizzes". They may be very important to a student's studies and grades, in which case the are often referred to as "exams".


Sometimes students are able to find practice exams on the internet. For example, there are practice exams related to the IELTS English-language test. In formal terms, such tests are sometimes referred to as "formative tests".


Professionally-developed tests are used as screening and certification exams. They will often have pass/fail scores. Examples are the Law School Admissions Test, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and the Graduate Record Exam. Passing these exams is very important to those who pay to take them and for this reason they're called "high-stakes" exams.


(Some of you in today's audience may have had to pass an English qualifying exam before being admitted for studies at this university.)


The items used on cognitive tests will have a correct answer for which one point is usually awarded.


affective "tests"


These are not really tests; we can refer to them as "instruments" or "surveys" or "questionnaires" or "opinion polls" or "attitude surveys".


Items on affective tests do not have a correct answer. But it is common to score the responses to affective items; for example, if a person answers "strongly agree" to an affective item, s/he may get 5 points while another person, answering "strongly disagree" to the same item, may get just 1 point.


Often we hear an affective test referred to as a "scale". For example, we might hear of an instrument called the "Life Satisfaction Scale", or of another called the "Happiness Scale".



Note: the "happiness scale" reminds me that some of the students here today are from Bhutan. According to a Wikipedia article, Bhutan is noted for pioneering the concept of "gross national happiness".