Reading ability and print exposure: item response theory analysis of the author recognition test
In the Author Recognition Test (ART) participants are presented with a series of names and foils and are asked to indicate which ones they recognize as authors. The test is a strong predictor of reading skill, with this predictive ability generally explained as occurring because author knowledge is likely acquired through reading or other forms of print exposure. This large-scale study (1012 college student participants) used Item Response Theory (IRT) to analyze item (author) characteristics
... ) characteristics to facilitate identification of the determinants of item difficulty, provide a basis for further test development, and to optimize scoring of the ART. Factor analysis suggests a potential two factor structure of the ART differentiating between literary vs. popular authors. Effective and ineffective author names were identified so as to facilitate future revisions of the ART. Analyses showed that the ART is a highly significant predictor of time spent encoding words as measured using eye-tracking during reading. The relationship between the ART and time spent reading provided a basis for implementing a higher penalty for selecting foils, rather than the standard method of ART scoring (names selected minus foils selected). The findings provide novel support for the view that the ART is a valid indicator of reading volume. Further, they show that frequency data can be used to select items of appropriate difficulty and that frequency data from corpora based on particular time periods and types of text may allow test adaptation for different populations.