Item Response Theory

A 2-Day Seminar Taught by Tenko Raykov, Ph.D. 

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To see a sample of the course materials, click here.

Behavioral, social, educational, biomedical, business, and marketing scientists are frequently involved in the evaluation, development and revision of multiple-component measuring instruments, such as tests, scales, inventories, questionnaires, surveys, self-reports, testlets, subscales, etc. Scores obtained from them are often employed in various analyses addressing substantive research questions. The quality of these instruments and resulting individual parameter estimates determine the extent to which the subsequent analyses and modeling efforts can be trusted. To ensure high quality of the measuring instruments, researchers must carefully study their psychometric properties and engage in possibly multiple revisions of them.

This two-day seminar provides a thorough introduction to Item Response Theory (IRT, Item Response Modeling, IRM). It covers many topics at the introductory to intermediate level, as well as several more advanced topics. Throughout the seminar, numerous empirical examples are utilized from the educational, behavioral, and social sciences. The popular packages Stata and Mplus are used in the examples, along with a detailed discussion of the needed command syntax and interpretation of the resulting output. References to the increasingly popular software flexMIRT are made on several occasions as well as to IRTPRO and the package ‘ltm’ of R, and use of them is made in some of the examples. At the end of the seminar, the participants will also be able to conduct software-based analyses using the modeling methods covered in the course.

Participants in this seminar can expect to come away with:

  1. A nuanced understanding of the conceptual foundations and basic mathematical and statistical relationships underlying IRT/IRM.
  2. The ability to understand, interpret and explain the output from Stata and Mplus when used for IRT/IRM, and to evaluate pertinent psychometric properties of given measuring instruments, such as tests, scales, testlets, subscales, inventories, self-reports, surveys or questionnaires.
  3.  An appreciation of the advantages of a thorough study of the underlying latent structure of (tentative versions of) multi-component instruments.
  4. Practical tools and strategies for constructing an initial version of a test/instrument of interest and its revision aimed at improving its quality, based on item information and test information functions.
  5. The ability to improve a given measuring instrument, in order to achieve corresponding higher psychometric standards.
  6. The ability to deal with issues arising in the practice of studying tests, scales, and behavioral or mental measuring instruments using IRT/IRM.


To participate in the hands-on exercises, you are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop computer with Stata and Mplus installed (Stata 14 or later; the free Mplus demo version will suffice). However, no previous experience with Stata or Mplus is assumed. A power outlet and wireless access will be available at each seat.

Seminar participants who are not yet ready to purchase Stata could take advantage of StataCorp’s free 30-day evaluation offer or their 30-day software return policy. 


To benefit from this seminar, you should have the equivalent of one or more semesters of statistics: a good introductory course with some treatment of probability and random variables as well as regression analysis. Some knowledge of multivariate statistics would also be helpful, but is not essential.


The seminar meets Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21 at Temple University Center City, 1515 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. The class will meet from 9 to 5 each day with a 1-hour lunch break. 

Participants receive a bound manual containing detailed lecture notes (with equations and graphics), all data sets used in the workshop, as well as examples of computer output and many other useful features. This book frees participants from the distracting task of note taking. 


The fee of $995 includes all course materials.  

Refund Policy

If you cancel your registration at least two weeks before the course is scheduled to begin, you are entitled to a full refund (minus a processing fee of $50). 

Lodging Reservation Instructions

Club Quarters Hotel, 1628 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102. A block of guest rooms has been reserved at a special rate of $139 (Club Room) and $215 (Superior Room). In order to make reservations, call 203-905-2100 during business hours and identify yourself by using group code STAT10 or click here. For guaranteed rate and availability, you must reserve your room no later than Tuesday, September 19.

If you make reservations after the cut-off date ask for the Statistical Horizon’s room rate (do not use the code) and they will try to accommodate your request.

Embassy Suites, 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103. A block of guest rooms has also been reserved at a special rate of $179 per night. This location is less than a 10 minute walk to the seminar location. In order to make reservations, call 1-800-Embassy and identify yourself by using group code HRZ or click here. For guaranteed rate and availability, you must reserve your room no later than Tuesday, September 19.

Sonesta, 1800 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. A block of guest rooms has also been reserved at a special rate of $219 per night. This location is about a 5 minute walk to the seminar location. you must reserve your room by calling 1-215-561-7500 and identify yourself as part of the Statistical Horizons group no later than Tuesday, September 19.

Make reservations early as there are other conferences in town this weekend and availability will be limited. 


  1. Resources for the course.
  2. Introduction, brief history, and a short overview of Item Response Theory (IRT)/Item Response Modeling (IRM).
  3. A start-up example.
  4. Popular unidimensional IRT models.
  5. Parameter estimation in item response models.
  6. Item information and test information functions. Test characteristic curves.
  7. Measuring instrument construction, development, and revision using IRT/IRM
  8. Differential item functioning and methods for its examination. 
  9. Polytomous IRT models.
  10. Multidimensional IRT/IRM.
  11. Extensions and limitations of contemporary IRT/IRM applications. 
  12. Conclusion and outlook. 


“Really great conceptual foundation for anyone that wants to start somewhere learning psychometrics. I feel confident that I have the knowledge to continue learning about IRT.”
  Dana Miller, Temple University

“Tenko is especially lucid in his explanations and answers to participant questions. A great course for those that want to learn IRT, read IRT based studies, and apply the methods.”