Date of Award

Summer 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Hoelzle, James B.

Second Advisor

Nielson, Kristy

Third Advisor

Porcelli, Anthony


This study utilized item response theory (IRT) methods to investigate if item parameters of select trials in the California Verbal Learning Test-Second Edition (CVLT-II; Delis, Kramer, Kaplan, & Ober, 2000) and the Logical Memory subtests of the Wechsler Memory Scales – Fourth Edition (WMS-IV; Wechsler, 2009) vary as a function of the serial position effect. In addition, this study compared the effectiveness of CVLT-II and LM in quantifying verbal memory functioning, and determined if a weighted scoring approach improves the quantification of verbal memory. Archival data from 755 individuals (516 college students, 239 patients at a neuropsychology clinic) were utilized in this study. The serial position effect was only evident in Trials 1 and 5 of the CVLT-II. CVLT-II trials were more effective than LM trials in quantifying verbal memory, although LM trials had, on average, higher difficulty levels. The weighted scoring approach utilized in this study did not lead to improvements in the quantification of verbal memory. Nevertheless, findings indicate that some items or trials perform better than others in discriminating between examinees with low levels of memory ability, and that it is important to more closely evaluate item properties of tests used in clinical decision-making.