IRT analyses of Arabic letter knowledge in kindergarten

IRT analyses of Arabic letter knowledge in kindergarten

First Author: Sana Tibi -- Florida State University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Ashley A. Edwards; Chris Schatschneider; Linda J. Lombardino; John R. Kirby
Keywords: Kindergarten, Letter knowledge, Item Response Theory, Assessment
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Little research has been conducted on Arabic letter knowledge. This study was designed to investigate the nature of Arabic letter knowledge, its dimensionality, and to examine the relative difficulty of letter knowledge items, all within an item response theory (IRT) framework. Specifically, the study addressed three questions: (a) How many dimensions (i.e., latent factors) underlie Arabic letter knowledge? (b) Which letters are more easily named than others? and (c) Is there a difference between the three administered letter tasks in the amount of information they provide across the range of ability?

Method: Three letter knowledge tests were administered to 142 native Arabic-speaking kindergartners (mean age =67 months). The tests are: letter recognition, allograph recognition, and syllable recognition.
Results: The letter recognition task was found to be multidimensional, containing two factors, whereas the allograph and syllable tasks were found to be unidimensional. Results showed that a two parameter model fit best for all three tasks, demonstrating that items varied in degree of difficulty and in discrimination.
Conclusion: Findings provide a subset of letters that are most useful for quickly and precisely assessing children’s letter knowledge. Results are discussed in the context of orthographic and linguistic features of Arabic. Implications for assessment and instruction are discussed.