Estimating Item Parameters in Multistage Designs With the tmt Package in R


  • Jan Steinfeld Orcid
  • Alexander Robitzsch Orcid


Various likelihood-based methods are available for the parameter estimation of item response theory models (IRT), leading to comparable parameter estimates. Considering multistage testing (MST) designs, Glas (1988; stated that the conditional maximum likelihood (CML) method in its original formulation leads to severely biased parameter estimates. A modified CML estimation method for MST designs proposed by Zwitser and Maris (2015; finally provides asymptotically unbiased item parameter estimates. Steinfeld and Robitzsch (2021b; complemented this method to MST designs with probabilistic routing strategies. For both proposed modifications additional software solutions are required since design-specific information must be incorporated into the estimation process. An R package that has implemented both modifications is "tmt". In this article, first, the proposed solutions of the CML estimation in MST designs are illustrated, followed by the main part, the demonstration of the CML item parameter estimation with the R package "tmt". The demonstration includes the process of model specification, data simulation, and item parameter estimation, considering two different routing types of deterministic and probabilistic MST designs.