chapter  1
30 Pages

Dimensionality of Test Data and Aberrant Response Patterns

The value of a diagnostic profile that enumerates strengths and weaknesses in individual performance has been recognized in education, and competent teachers have been using their diagnostic skills in their classrooms to teach students better. It had been common sense that only humans could do such detective work to determine what was going on inside a human brain; however, the rapid development of computer technologies in the 1970s enabled technology to accomplish what previously had been impossible for humans. As computer technologies developed rapidly, computational powers increased dramatically. Linguists worked on natural language processing, psychologists were interested in modeling human information and retrieval, mathematicians were more interested in automating the theorem-proving process, and statisticians advanced various statistical methodologies and models that were impossible to compute without the help of computers. Computer scientists Brown and Burton (1978) developed a computer program called BUGGY using a new powerful programming language suitable for processing a list of logical statements. BUGGY was able to diagnose various “bugs,” or equally erroneous rules of operations committed by students in whole-number subtraction problems.