Spring 2022 - PSYC 402 D200

Advanced Topics in History and Theoretical Psychology (4)


Class Number: 1644

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    RCB 6152, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    PSYC 201, 210, 308 (or 207), 60 units, and a CGPA of 3.0. Other prerequisites vary by topic offering.



Course can be repeated for credit. Students may not take this course for further credit if similar topics are covered. See Psychology department website for course description.


Psyc 402/715 - Test Theory

Test Theory is that branch of psychometrics that deals with quantitative approaches to the adjudication of the performance of a test/inventory. In this course, students will learn the true meanings of fundamental test theory concepts such as dimensionality, reliability, and validity, as well as the logic inherent to each of classical and modern test theory. Additionally, they will learn how to carry out test analyses using relevant software packages (notably, SPSS, R: Lavaan, R: ltm, IRTPro, Maple), and, on the basis of these analyses, render coherent adjudications.


Psyc402/715 will be comprised of three parts:


i. Fundamentals/background


  •  Introduction [tests, compositing rules, composites, classical test theory, modern test theory]
  •  Random variables, random vectors, multivariate distributions
  •  Expectation algebra, covariance algebra
  •  Matrix Algebra


ii. Classical test theory


  •  classical true-score framework
  •  classical results
  •  classical notions of validity


iii. Modern test theory


  •  sequential nature of test analysis
  •  dimensionality
  •  optimal test composites
  •  modern estimation of reliability
  •  analysis of tests with particular theoretical structures


Undergraduates in the 402 section receive letter grades; graduates in the 715 are graded as successful/unsuccessful.


Note: The aim of the course will be to bring everyone to a high level of understanding. Although I will have to do a fair bit of lecturing, what I will be aiming for in class is a relaxed, conversational, and graduate seminar-like feeling. I do not want this course to feel rushed and high-pressured. I would like everyone to be able to relax and come to a very high level of mastery of this essential material. We will move through the material at a pace that will allow everyone to master it.

Components of course

This course is a face-to-face, in-person, offering supported by materials available to the student through weekly access to Canvas modules.


Lectures and lecture notes

Lectures, and the lecture notes on which they are based [available on Canvas], are the primary means by which will be covered, the materials of which the course is comprised. The lectures are structured sequentially in accordance with the lecture notes, and proceed through the course materials in a linear fashion. In each lecture, I will be referring directly to the accompanying lecture notes. However, the notes comprise but a sketch. Accordingly, elucidation, fleshing out, and expanding upon will be the standard order of business.


Assigned on an as-needed basis [available on Canvas]


Each of the four assignments will be constituted of some number of parts, the parts made available to you- on Canvas- as the semester unfolds. A given assignment- all of its parts- will be due- uploaded to Canvas- on the date and time specified on the schedule, below. Of course, these dates are provisional, and I am always open to rejigging them if, to do so, serves class aims. Individual students may request an extension if they find themselves under pressures which are militating against the possibility of optimal learning.

Computer Software

Test analyses will be conducted with the assistance of various computer programs, notably, the R packages Lavaan [structural equation models] and ltm [item response models], IRTPro [item response models], and Maple [post-processing of irt analyses]. Microlab computers will come equipped with R studio and Maple, and there will be a single microlab computer on which is installed irtPRO. It is strongly advised that, if it is not already installed, students install R studio on their laptop and/or home computer.


There will be a number of “workouts”, computational/theoretical exercises, each of which you will undertake on your own, some in class and some outside of class. Though it is highly recommended that you complete each and every workout (for they are designed to help you consolidate theoretical knowledge and master practical application), they are not for marks and will not be submitted.


Office hours

There will be weekly office hours [RCB4202; Thursday 10:00-11:00a.m.]. Though optional, regular participation in the office hours is highly recommended. It is

expected that, among other things, students will use this time to discuss matters related to the filmed lectures, the readings, workouts, and assignments. That is to say, anything whatsoever related to test theory and analysis.


  • Grading There is no midterm and no final. The only work submitted are
  • 4 assignments (25% each): 100%


Undergraduate grading categories


A+ 95 and higher

A 90-95

A- 85-90

B+ 80-85

B 75-80

B- 70-75

C+ 65-70

C 60-65

C- 55-60

D 50-55

F less than 50

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.