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IRT modeling of the VNT (Fergadiotis et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-03-31, 18:43 authored by Gerasimos Fergadiotis, Marianne Casilio, Michael Walsh Dickey, Stacey Steel, Hannele Nicholson, Mikala Fleegle, Alexander M. Swiderski, William D. Hula

Purpose: Item response theory (IRT) is a modern psychometric framework with several advantageous properties as compared with classical test theory. IRT has been successfully used to model performance on anomia tests in individuals with aphasia; however, all efforts to date have focused on noun production accuracy. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether the Verb Naming Test (VNT), a prominent test of action naming, can be successfully modeled under IRT and evaluate its reliability.

Method: We used responses on the VNT from 107 individuals with chronic aphasia from AphasiaBank. Unidimensionality and local independence, two assumptions prerequisite to IRT modeling, were evaluated using factor analysis and Yen’s Q3 statistic (Yen, 1984), respectively. The assumption of equal discrimination among test items was evaluated statistically via nested model comparisons and practically by using correlations of resulting IRT-derived scores. Finally, internal consistency, marginal and empirical reliability, and conditional reliability were evaluated.

Results: The VNT was found to be sufficiently unidimensional with the majority of item pairs demonstrating adequate local independence. An IRT model in which item discriminations are constrained to be equal demonstrated fit equivalent to a model in which unique discrimination parameters were estimated for each item. All forms of reliability were strong across the majority of IRT ability estimates.

Conclusions: Modeling the VNT using IRT is feasible, yielding ability estimates that are both informative and reliable. Future efforts are needed to quantify the validity of the VNT under IRT and determine the extent to which it measures the same construct as other anomia tests.

Supplemental Material S1. A complete participant ID list from AphasiaBank.

Supplemental Material S2. A parallel analysis plot.

Supplemental Material S3. Ability estimates and their standard errors.

Fergadiotis, G., Casilio, M., Dickey, M. W., Steel, S., Nicholson, H., Fleegle, M., Swiderski, A., & Hula, W. D. (2023). Item response theory modeling of the Verb Naming Test. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 66(5), 1718–1739.


This work was funded by NIH/NIDCD Grant 1R01DC018813 (PIs: Hula & Fergadiotis).