Jake Thompson
Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems

ATLAS psychometrician awarded grant for improving software, methods for educational research

Tue, 04/06/2021

LAWRENCE — Jake Thompson, senior psychometrician with Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems at the University of Kansas, has received a $225,000 grant from the Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Educational Research. Titled Improving Software and Methods for Estimating Diagnostic Classification Models and Evaluating Model Fit, the grant will help reduce hurdles among educational researchers.

Jake Thompson“Diagnostic classification models are flexible and informative, but the code knowledge required is a significant barrier to entry,” said Thompson, who won the grant through the 2021 Statistical and Research Methodology in Education competition. “This project will make these models more accessible, helping researchers understand how knowledge, skills and understandings are acquired.” 

Researchers can use diagnostic classification models to gather fine-grained details about individuals’ mastery of distinct skills. These models are typically used for educational assessments, like the Dynamic Learning Maps alternate assessments. However, there are possibilities to leverage these models in applied research. Similar models are used in some studies to evaluate learning trajectories, instructional interventions and psychological disorders. 

Diagnostic classification models can be challenging to estimate and evaluate using the available software packages, so researchers who lack programming expertise are at a disadvantage, Thompson said. This project will make estimating diagnostic models more intuitive while also reducing barriers to entry for researchers. The project includes case studies and implementation guidance to better help researchers leverage the models and gain data insights. 

“By enabling greater use of diagnostic classification models, we can give researchers a powerful new tool to answer substantive questions, which significantly expedites progress and creates new possibilities,” Thompson said. 

About Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems (ATLAS)  

ATLAS, a center within the Achievement and Assessment Institute at KU, promotes learning by creating accessible and academically rigorous technology-based learning and assessment systems. The center serves students with and without disabilities and their teachers through several projects focused on improving student outcomes. ATLAS’s learning map models, assessment design and teacher resources are informed by the center’s research projects and by innovations in psychometrics that support the measurement of map-based learning. Visit to learn more about ATLAS. 

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