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Psychol Assess. 2006 Mar;18(1):100-5.

Development of a new critical thinking test using item response theory.

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Department of Psychology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA.


The authors describe the initial development of the Wagner Assessment Test (WAT), an instrument designed to assess critical thinking, using the 5-faceted view popularized by the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA; G. B. Watson & E. M. Glaser, 1980). The WAT was designed to reduce the degree of successful guessing relative to the WGCTA by increasing the number of response alternatives (i.e., 80% of WGCTA items are 2-alternative, multiple-choice), a change that was hypothesized to result in more desirable test information and standard-error functions. Analyses using the 3-parameter logistic item response theory (IRT) model in a sample of undergraduates (N = 407) supported this prediction, even when the WAT item pool was shortened to match the length of the WGCTA. Convergent validity between full-pool IRT score estimates was r = .69. Implications for subsequent research on IRT-based measurement of critical thinking are discussed.

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