Modification Indices for Diagnostic Classification Models

Diagnostic classification models (DCMs) are psychometric models for evaluating a student’s mastery of the essential skills in a content domain based upon their responses to a set of test items. Currently, diagnostic model and/or Q-matrix misspecification is a known problem with limited avenues for remediation. To address this problem, this paper defines a one-sided score statistic that is a computationally efficient method for detecting under-specification at the item level of both the Q-matrix and the model parameters of the particular DCM chosen in an analysis. This method is analogous to the modification indices widely used in structural equation modeling. The results of a simulation study show the Type I error rate of modification indices for DCMs are acceptably close to the nominal significance level when the appropriate mixture reference distribution is used. The simulation results indicate that modification indices are very powerful in the detection of an under-specified Q-matrix and have ample power to detect the omission of model parameters in large samples or when the items are highly discriminating. An application of modification indices for DCMs to an analysis of response data from a large-scale administration of a diagnostic test demonstrates how they can be useful in diagnostic model refinement.

Brown C. & Templin, J. (2022). Modification indices for diagnostic classification models. Multivariate Behavioral Research. DOI: 10.1080/00273171.2022.2049672