Conditional Pairwise Estimation in the Rasch Model for Ordered Response Categories using Principal Components

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73 Citations (Scopus)


In the Rasch model for items with more than two ordered response categories, the thresholds that define the successive categories are an integral part of the structure of each item in that the probability of the response in any category is a function of all thresholds, not just the thresholds between any two categories. This paper describes a method of estimation for the Rasch model that takes advantage of this structure. In particular, instead of estimating the thresholds directly, it estimates the principal components of the thresholds, from which threshold estimates are then recovered. The principal components are estimated using a pairwise maximum likelihood algorithm which specialises to the well known algorithm for dichotomous items. The method of estimation has three advantageous properties. First, by considering items in all possible pairs, sufficiency in the Rasch model is exploited with the person parameter conditioned out in estimating the item parameters, and by analogy to the pairwise algorithm for dichotomous items, the estimates appear to be consistent, though unlike for the dichotomous case, no formal proof has yet been provided. Second, the estimates of each item parameter is a function of frequencies in all categories of the item rather than just a function of frequencies of two adjacent categories. This stabilizes estimates in the presence of low frequency data. Third, the procedure accounts readily for missing data. All of these properties are important when the model is used for constructing variables from large scale data sets which must account for structurally missing data. A simulation study shows that the quality of the estimates is excellent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-221
JournalJournal of Applied Measurement
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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