A few notes on Items Response Theory (IRT) and Computerized adaptive testing

Recently, I was thinking about how to improve the accuracy of assessment tests for ESL learners and so I googled and found Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT).

During the process, I accidentally discovered an interesting theory behind it. It’s called Items Response Theory or IRT for short.

So I’ve spent some time reading up about it and in the process, picked up a few very useful bits about statistical hypothesis testing, which I’m very glad to have learned.

Below, I share the most important ideas about IRT that I’ve learned.

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A few thoughts on learning, responsibility and commitment

Up to recently, I only knew of one meaning of “learning”: that is to take in more knowledge, or to improve one’s existing knowledge.

So it’s mostly about information and knowledge. About what one knows.

But with time and more experience in management, communication and work in general, I realized that there’s another type of learning that is even more important for one to make progress in work and life.

And it’s not quite the above type of learning more knowledge.

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Building a culture of high performance: Learn to give and receive feedback well

There are many things we can learn from the book Netflix’s Culture of reinvention. Among them, a practice that we can all learn and apply is its insistence on “selfless candor”: the practice of improving performance through receiving regular feedback (from everyone).

To build a culture that really embraces constant learning and improvements, learning to give and receive feedback well is a sine qua non.

Without constant 360-degree feedback, we identify our mistakes more slowly (and sometimes completely oblivious to our mistakes) and as a result, we learn and improve more slowly.

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Lessons from Netflix’s culture of reinvention

The new book about Netflix’s culture of reinvention is superb, in my opinions. Its full title is: “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention” by Reed Hastings (CEO) and Erin Meyer.

The book shares how Netflix has built a culture of reinvention, whereby making it one of the leaders in the creative business.

This book contains many things that are, well, to use Netflix’s lingo, “stunning”.

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A few thoughts on the current phase of online learning

In this article from A16z, the author discussed the 3 phases in online learning in the US.

Here’s  a quick recap of the 3 phases, according to the authors:

Phase 1: MOOCs (Massive Online Open courses): referring to university-style courses such as those offered by Coursera, MIT Open courses, etc.

Phase 2: Built tools & resources that support in-person tutoring.
This phase includes softwares in 3 sub categories:

  • Learning management systems (LMS): for admin-related work
  • Pre-recorded content: such as YouTube, Khan Academy, Duolingo, etc.
    • In my opinions, we should have a new category to include self-study learning software such as Duolingo, ABC Mouse, etc. b/c their content are way more dynamic and customized than pre-recorded videos.
  • Tutoring & tutor-matching platforms: facilitating online tutoring & students-tutors matching. Exs include PhotoMath, Brainly, etc.

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Interesting points from “The best way to learn Math facts”

I recently happened to come across an article on the topic of learning Math facts, titled “Fluency Without Fear: Research Evidence on the Best Ways to Learn Math Facts” by Jo Boaler.

The topic of making Math cool again is, in my opinions, very critical b/c it’s the foundation of all sciences and it should have been cool. The way it’s currently taught and approached makes it uninteresting and scary.

Below are a couple of interesting points I gathered from the above article:

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