Networking Agenda for the September 4-6 IMEKO Meeting in Genoa

I’ve been wondering about how to make the most of the opportunities presented by next week’s IMEKO meeting for engaging with the members of the Measurement Science, Bio-Medical, and Education/Training Technical Committees. I am hopeful about the joint presentation Mark Wilson is doing with Luca Mari, and I’m excited about the presentations scheduled from Andrew Maul (Colorado), Andrew Stephanou (ACER, Melbourne, Australia), Bob Massof (Johns Hopkins), Jack Stenner (MetaMetrics), and Nick Bezruzcko (Chicago).

On the other hand, four of the seven Rasch-relevant presentations are all together in one session, opposite two other metrology sessions. I’m also disappointed that the excellent paper Leslie Pendrill and I put together was relegated to a poster.

Given the experience of past meetings and the program for this one, it seems there is some possibility of our being isolated and disconnected from the larger proceedings. But none of us full-time psychometricians, I suspect, would feel satisfied traveling so far and making so much effort simply for the pleasure of conferring among ourselves. A plan of some kind then is in order to promote active engagement with other attendees, and pose questions in the sessions we attend.

Luca Mari, of course, is already quite engaged. It was he who suggested inviting Mark Wilson to the 2011 IMEKO meeting in Jena, Germany, and at Mark Wilson’s invitation, he spoke last summer at the International Psychometric Society meeting in Nebraska. In addition, he and I have been in dialogue for some months around the definitions and terms in the VIM (International Vocabulary of Measurement, a standard backed by all eight major international standards organizations, such as BIPM, IEC, IFCC, ISO, IUPAC, IUPAP, OIML, and ILAC).

An important goal for the VIM is to make it relevant to measurement in all sciences. As is stated in the Wikipedia entry on metrology, it is “the science of measurement, embracing both experimental and theoretical determinations at any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology.” A problem that arises in this context is that the effort to embrace psychology and the social sciences was not well informed about contemporary psychometrics, giving rise to unfortunate phrases like “ordinal quantity.” There is, of course, ample opportunity for far more rigorous and productive approaches to measurement in disciplines not previously represented in the VIM, and at the 2011 IMEKO meeting in Jena, Gordon Cooper and I did a poster taking up this issue.

In addition to Luca Mari, other IMEKO members who have previously shown interest in psychometric issues include Giovanni Rossi (one of the meeting hosts and organizers), Gerhard Linss, Eric Benoit, S. Khan, and Roman Morawski. Further, it may be useful to indicate a show of support for Rense Lange’s new psychometrics institute at Universidad Lusofona in Porto to Joao Sousa and Raul Carneiro Martins of Portugal.

Questions that might productively be raised include the following, among others:

Are you familiar with the requirements for linearity, monotonicity, additivity, and parameter separation in psychometrics? Do you think these requirements might provide a basis for common or related definitions of measurement across all fields?

Given the proven and longstanding capacity in psychometrics for equating different instruments measuring the same thing, don’t you think there might be considerable value in exploring the possibility of metrological traceability to standardized units for the major constructs measured in education, health care, human resource management, etc.?

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