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A journey into psychometrics

A journey into psychometrics

ACER news 5 minute read

Dr Eunjung Lee shares highlights from her career in psychometrics – from developing tests to select pilots for Korean Air to facilitating ACER's Understanding Rasch Measurement Theory course.

We all have those sliding door moments that alter the course of our lives.

For Dr Eunjung Lee, that moment came when her husband was given a scholarship to a PhD program at the University of Iowa in 2008.

The couple, newly married and living in their homeland of South Korea, decided it was a great opportunity and embarked on the journey of a lifetime.

Dr Lee had previously earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Industrial and Organisational Psychology at Korea University in Seoul. In the course of her study, she had been involved in developing tests for selecting Korean Army officers and pilots for Korean Air, and had always been interested in understanding testing in personnel selection and education contexts.

‘I liked the idea of learning more about how we test people, and how we ensure tests are an accurate reflection of an individual’s ability,’ she said.

It was in the college town of Iowa City that Dr Lee found her calling.

‘If you’ve ever seen X-Files with the scenes of the cornfields, that’s what Iowa is like – it’s quite different from Seoul but there are lots of nice, kind folks there,’ De Lee said. ‘There was no Industry and Organizational Psychology major available at the University of Iowa, but educational testing was really big and, in fact, Iowa City is famous for it.

‘Pearson and ACT – big US testing companies – are located in Iowa City and students can do internships and find work easily, so there are some really great opportunities.’

Between 2008 and 2013, Dr Lee completed a PhD in psychometric and educational testing in the College of Education at the University of Iowa and also worked for the Center for Advanced Studies in Measurement and Assessment. In 2013, she and her husband decided it was time for another adventure and moved to Australia.

Exploring a career opportunity in Melbourne, Dr Lee applied for a psychometrician position with ACER, and the rest is history.

‘Psychometrics is not just limited to educational tests – it covers all kinds of tests, including aptitude, personality tests, personal tests and school testing,’ she said. ‘In my role, we are more focused on testing at schools.

‘We study how to construct a test so that the test score can accurately measure an individual student’s ability, how we can predict the future performance of this student from this test score, and how we can make this relationship from test score to future success stronger.’

‘I find it really interesting and fascinating,’ she said.

This year, Dr Lee began working as a facilitator in ACER’s Understanding Rasch Measurement Theory course. Led by world-renowned researcher and psychometrician Professor Geoff Masters, the 10-week, online, masters level course delves into the measurement theory that underpins educational assessment.

Dr Lee said she is enjoying her new role.

‘Even though I learned all of this from my PhD course work and I know the theory, it’s different when you get to answer students’ questions and interact with them,’ she said. ‘Because the course was developed by Professor Masters, who really has in-depth knowledge about all kinds of educational systems and theories, it’s really easy to understand not only fundamental theories and principles of educational testing, but also how testing works in a broader educational system and context.

‘It covers all kinds of fundamental concepts of measurement theory and I think it’s a really well-developed and written course for a diverse audience, including those who don’t have much knowledge in measurement.’

When asked about her long-term plans, Dr Lee said she wants to continue her work in this area.

‘I never imagined that I would end up working in psychometrics in Australia, but I believe I’m really lucky to live here,’ she said. ‘My goal is to keep working as a facilitator so that I can communicate with other likeminded people who are also interested in measurement theory and work together to get a better understanding of measurement.’

Looking to expand your knowledge?

Are you a research student wanting to delve deeper into measurement theory? Perhaps you’re an education professional looking to better understand the tools behind student testing? Why not sign up for our Understanding Rasch Measurement Theory course?

The next intake is 13 July and applications close on 3 July. Find out more or apply. ■

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