[Rasch] formative v. reflective measures in assessment research

Fidelman, Carolyn Carolyn.Fidelman at ed.gov
Sat Feb 1 05:08:31 EST 2014


I was going over these posts and saw this one from October. I hope I'm not too late to contribute!  We were recently having this same discussion about formative versus reflective variables. Here is a good article (via my colleague Bill Tirre) that helps to explain it.

Freeze, Ronald and Raschke, Robyn L., "An Assessment of Formative and Reflective Constructs in IS Research" (2007). ECIS 2007 Proceedings. Paper 171.

The terms I use for these are "scale" variables (for reflective)  and "index" variables (for formative).  Some of you may use other terms. We would use Rasch or other IRT in creating the scale score, whereas we might more commonly use SEM to evaluate an index variable. Not sure you would be able to use Rasch to create an index score as, for one thing, the unidimensionality assumption is likely going to be violated in combining the diverse components of it.


Carolyn G. Fidelman, Ph.D.

NCES Sample Surveys | Longitudinal Studies Branch Rm 9035, 1990 K St. NW | 202-502-7312 | carolyn.fidelman at ed.gov<mailto:carolyn.fidelman at ed.gov>

From: rasch-bounces at acer.edu.au [mailto:rasch-bounces at acer.edu.au] On Behalf Of Bond, Trevor
Sent: Saturday, October 26, 2013 3:17 AM
To: rasch at acer.edu.au
Subject: Re: [Rasch] formative v. reflective measures in assessment research

Dear Donald,
Perhaps you could share what you mean by formative and reflective, so we might be able better to answer your question.

From: Donald Bacon <dbacon at du.edu<mailto:dbacon at du.edu>>
Reply-To: "rasch at acer.edu.au<mailto:rasch at acer.edu.au>" <rasch at acer.edu.au<mailto:rasch at acer.edu.au>>
Date: Saturday, 26 October 2013 3:57 AM
To: "rasch at acer.edu.au<mailto:rasch at acer.edu.au>" <rasch at acer.edu.au<mailto:rasch at acer.edu.au>>
Subject: [Rasch] formative v. reflective measures in assessment research

Hi all -
   The Rasch model assumes that each measure in a scale reflects the same underlying trait, and so it seems that a reflective measurement model is appropriate, and internal consistency is a desirable quality.  But what about the case of a long comprehensive exam, such as one we might use for assessment.  In my experience, these exams often behave as if they were close to unidimensional, even though many different learning outcomes are captured.  If well designed, these tests often exhibit high internal consistency.  Because the models fit well, I've always thought of the measures as reflective, but perhaps my theory is wrong even though the fit is good; maybe the measures are formative.  Is there any way to use the Rasch model with formative indicators?

Thanks for any insights you might have -


Donald R. Bacon, Ph.D.
Professor of Marketing
Editor, Journal of Marketing Education
Daniels College of Business
University of Denver

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