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The Psychometrics Centre

Cambridge Judge Business School

(Online) IRT, CAT and Machine Learning Summer School 2020

This 5-day Summer School combines two of our most popular courses (“Item Response Theory (IRT) and Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) in R and Concerto” and “Machine Learning in R for Social Scientists”) into a program tailored for researchers and practitioners in the social and health sciences. It is suitable for those taking their first steps in R programming, psychometrics, and machine learning, but also for those who already have a solid understanding and wish to advance their skills. There's also the option to attend just the first 3 days which focus on data science.

The course is taught by Dr Chris Gibbons (MD Anderson/The Psychometrics Centre) and Dr Aiden Loe (The Psychometrics Centre). Aiden and Chris have delivered variants of these courses in Cambridge and around the world at universities, hospitals, private organisations and government institutions in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, and the United States. They are actively using these techniques in cutting-edge research projects and will help you to develop your practical skills in addition to your theoretical understanding of the key concepts.

For those who are new to R, some additional materials will be given to you before the workshop so that you can familiarise yourself with the syntax and working environment. There are no obligations to complete these additional materials, but it will undoubtedly hasten the learning pace during the workshop. Those with experience in these domains will also encounter challenging content and develop their knowledge under the supervision of our experienced instructors.

**UPDATE: We plan to run this course online via Zoom, covering the same topics. This page will be updated shortly with further information.**

Location Dates

Price per delegate

(exc. 20% VAT)


Online via Zoom

August 17th to 21st 2020
5-day Summer School

5 days (Mon-Fri)
Business £1195
Academic £995
Student £795 

3 days (Mon-Wed)
Business £795
Academic £645
Student £495

Click on links above to pay

Dr Chris Gibbons,
Dr Aiden Loe

Prior experience with R is not necessary. Participants should bring their own laptops with the latest version of R installed ( ) and also RStudio ( )


Day 1: Introduction to R and the Concerto Platform

The first day will provide delegates with a solid introduction to R programming, getting everyone up to speed and allowing us to assess the varying levels of prior expertise among the group. Materials will be available before the course and all skill levels will be accommodated.

In the afternoon, delegates will work towards the development of a linear personality test using the Concerto platform. The goal will be for every delegate to have made a working test by the end of the day.

Day 2: Data mining and manipulation in and Machine Learning

This will be a very hands-on morning session, in which delegates learn to use APIs and web scraping method to mine different forms of data from the internet. They will, for example, obtain and manipulate unstructured text data and public domain data (e.g. from Twitter, Wikipedia) using popular data science tools. They will also perform analyses on this data to visualise and derive insights from it.

Day 3: Machine learning in practice

The morning will focus on machine-learning concepts. Delegates will learn how predictive algorithms work, the difference between supervised and unsupervised methods, feature selection and extraction, the assessment of algorithm performance and more. This introduction to the theory behind the statistics and practice of data science will also help to deepen delegates’ understanding of the underlying mechanisms at work, ahead of implementing their algorithms in practice on the following day.

In the afternoon, delegates will implement some of the algorithms in the Concerto platform, for example for text classification and sentiment analysis. Delegates will also write and run their own scripts to see different algorithms in action on pre-cleaned datasets that we provide and will learn data ‘wrangling’ using tidyverse applications. In the afternoon, the class will try to predict personality from Facebook Likes data using singular value decomposition and other techniques.

Day 4: Item-response theory and computer-adaptive testing

The morning session will focus on item response theory and will provide delegates with first-hand experience of applying IRT and differential item functioning (DIF) analyses to questionnaire data. Item response theory can be used to improve questionnaire accuracy and sensitivity, while DIF analyses are used to compare data quality and item performance across different groups.

The class will also learn how computer-adaptive testing algorithms function and will use their knowledge of IRT to build an adaptive test in Concerto. They will learn how to simulate different CAT algorithms to evaluate which is best suited for different datasets and testing scenarios and will, by the end of the day, have built their own working CAT. As part of this development process, we will guide them through IRT scoring in R and how to interpret the test outputs. Finally, they will learn to visualise and present instant feedback to test-takers through the Concerto platform in a clear and interpretable format.

Day 5: CAT Development and the future of online psychometrics

The final day will consolidate the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired over the course and explore the latest developments in online psychometrics. We will expect delegates to independently run an IRT analysis and develop a CAT from a new dataset, with minimal supervision. The purpose of this exercise is to give delegates confidence in their newly acquired skills and ensure that these continue to develop beyond the programme.

We will also leave time to discuss what’s next for Concerto and psychometrics, such as continuous item deployment, automatic item generation, crowdsourcing, mobile systems integration, Big Data assessment and other trends. This will hopefully inspire ideas for further collaboration.

Other information

All delegates will receive a signed and branded certificate of completion from the instructors at the end of the programme. Delegates must bring their own laptops or computers to participate in the training.


Feedback from previous delegates:

  • "The course was incredibly well-pitched.. it was the best course I have ever attended in terms of quality of teaching!"
  • "Chris and Aiden were engaging speakers who clearly were very familiar with both the theoretical underpinnings of IRT and CAT, as well as the Concerto platform.  As instructors, they managed the diversity in skills and experience in the classroom well." 
  •  "A really great atmosphere and great teaching that fostered a collaborative learning environment."
  •  "I liked the 'spirit' of the workshop which was intense, motivating and very hands-on - thank you so much for a brilliant course!
  • "The introduction to R was very useful for me, Aiden and Chris were good teachers and very helpful."
  •  "It was incredibly informative, well-paced and well organised."


Click here for the latest info on Covid-19 from Cambridge Judge Business School

Monday, 17 August, 2020 - 10:00 to Friday, 21 August, 2020 - 17:30
Event location: 
Cambridge, UK

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