IRT and midnight sun

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a picture of my wonderful, brilliant,  encouraging supervisors, so here’s “Team Ellen” (as they say) at our last meeting before the summer.  🙂 They’re the best! 🙂

I passed both of my courses this semester: Quantitative research methods (statistics) and “Take control of your PhD-journey” (from the library). I’ll also receive credits for the courses that I took at HINN, so I’m well on my way toward completing my course credits. In this PhD-program, only 30 credits are from course work, while 150 are from the research and thesis, so I still have a lot of work to do!

Last week Torstein and I did some statistical analyses of the data we collected in the pilot study. Using the statistics program r, data from the 268 respondents were analyzed in an exploratory manner for two parameters in Item Response Theory (IRT) – item difficulty and item discrimination. R generated these item characteristic curves for our 16 items.

By interpreting their slopes and placement, these curves tell us how difficult the survey questions are and how well they discriminate between students with much of the latent trait “information literacy,” and those with little of the trait. This enabled us to further reduce the number of survey questions from 16 to 10. We’re trying to accurately measure certain aspects of IL with as short a survey as possible.

But now it’s actually sunny and warm here in Tromsø (the warmest it’s been since I arrived in October), so I’ll continue with more on a cloudy day. And for the astronomically interested: the sun rose today at 1:03 AM and won’t set until July 27th! Welcome MIDNIGHT SUN! 🙂

New research design

I did a pilot with the survey and have analyzed the data using Classical test theory (CTT), which enabled me to reduce the number of questions (items) from 50 to 17, keeping only the most useful items. I’ll soon analyze pilot data also with factor analysis and IRT, and use think-aloud protocols to help formulate the questions in an understandable way. Then the survey will be ready for the most important data collection point, in August.

My supervisors had warned me right from the start that there would be changes in my research design along the way, for various reasons. So I wasn’t too surprised when I heard last week about a scheduling change in the course that I’ll be collecting data from. Starting with the 2020 cohort, the course will be held in the spring semester instead of the fall semester, making it hard to compare these students with others classes. So, I had to make the first major change in my research design.

It took a few days for me to wrap my head around what this schedule change would entail for my research. Somehow this process ended up with a plan to write 4 articles instead of 3, and collecting data at 12 different points in time. Wish me luck!