“Social scientists are frequently interested in assessing the qualities of social settings such as classrooms, schools, neighborhoods, or day care centers. The most common procedure requires observers to rate social interactions within these settings on multiple items and then to combine the item responses to obtain a summary measure of setting quality. A key aspect of the quality of such a summary measure is its reliability. In this paper we derive a confidence interval for reliability, a test for the hypothesis that the reliability meets a minimum standard, and the power of this test against alternative hypotheses. Next, we consider the problem of using data from a preliminary field study of the measurement procedure to inform the design of a later study that will test substantive hypotheses about the correlates of setting quality.”

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