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Estimation Methods for One-Parameter Testlet Models



This study demonstrated the equivalence between the Rasch testlet model and the three-level one-parameter testlet model and explored the Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method for model parameter estimation in WINBUGS. The estimation accuracy from the MCMC method was compared with those from the marginalized maximum likelihood estimation (MMLE) with the expectation-maximization algorithm in ConQuest and the sixth-order Laplace approximation estimation in HLM6. The results indicated that the estimation methods had significant effects on the bias of the testlet variance and ability variance estimation, the random error in the ability parameter estimation, and the bias in the item difficulty parameter estimation. The Laplace method best recovered the testlet variance while the MMLE best recovered the ability variance. The Laplace method resulted in the smallest random error in the ability parameter estimation while the MCMC method produced the smallest bias in item parameter estimates. Analyses of three real tests generally supported the findings from the simulation and indicated that the estimates for item difficulty and ability parameters were highly correlated across estimation methods.