A test can have multiple reliabilities
Number of pages
08 september 2021
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI BO
SubjectBehavioural Science Institute
It is argued that the generalizability theory interpretation of coefficient alpha is important. In this interpretation, alpha is a slightly biased but consistent estimate for the coefficient of generalizability in a subjects x items design where both subjects and items are randomly sampled. This interpretation is based on the "domain sampling" true scores. It is argued that these true scores have a more solid empirical basis than the true scores of Lord and Novick (1968), which are based on "stochastic subjects" (Holland, 1990), while only a single observation is available for each within-subject distribution. Therefore, the generalizability interpretation of coefficient alpha is to be preferred, unless the true scores can be defined by a latent variable model that has undisputed empirical validity for the test and that is sufficiently restrictive to entail a consistent estimate of the reliability - as, for example, McDonald’s omega. If this model implies that the items are essentially tau-equivalent, both the generalizability and the reliability interpretation of alpha can be defensible.
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