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On the Use, the Misuse, and the Very Limited Usefulness ofCronbach’s Alpha

On the Use, the Misuse, and the Very Limited Usefulness ofCronbach’s Alpha This discussion paper argues that both the use of Cronbach’s alpha as a reliability estimate and as a measure of internal consistency suffer from major problems. First, alpha always has a value, which cannot be equal to the test score’s reliability given the interitem covariance matrix and the usual assumptions about measurement error. Second, in practice, alpha is used more often as a measure of the test’s internal consistency than as an estimate of reliability. However, it can be shown easily that alpha is unrelated to the internal structure of the test. It is further discussed that statistics based on a single test administration do not convey much information about the accuracy of individuals’ test performance. The paper ends with a list of conclusions about the usefulness of alpha. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Psychometrika Springer Journals

On the Use, the Misuse, and the Very Limited Usefulness ofCronbach’s Alpha

Psychometrika , Volume 74 (1) – Dec 11, 2008

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References (55)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 by The Author(s)
Subject
Psychology; Psychometrics; Assessment, Testing and Evaluation; Statistics for Social Science, Behavorial Science, Education, Public Policy, and Law; Statistical Theory and Methods
ISSN
0033-3123
eISSN
1860-0980
DOI
10.1007/s11336-008-9101-0
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This discussion paper argues that both the use of Cronbach’s alpha as a reliability estimate and as a measure of internal consistency suffer from major problems. First, alpha always has a value, which cannot be equal to the test score’s reliability given the interitem covariance matrix and the usual assumptions about measurement error. Second, in practice, alpha is used more often as a measure of the test’s internal consistency than as an estimate of reliability. However, it can be shown easily that alpha is unrelated to the internal structure of the test. It is further discussed that statistics based on a single test administration do not convey much information about the accuracy of individuals’ test performance. The paper ends with a list of conclusions about the usefulness of alpha.

Journal

PsychometrikaSpringer Journals

Published: Dec 11, 2008

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