Perhaps one of Lertap's greatest strengths lies in its ability to fairly easily attach weights, or points, to each one of an item's responses. The *mws line is the way multiple weights are usually applied; mws stands for "multiple-weights specification". *mws "cards" live on CCs worksheets.
What many people do not realise, no matter how often they pull the Lertap manual down from their bedside table for a relaxing read before sleep, is that it's possible to change item weights without changing the control lines in the CCs worksheet.
Let's say this is what you've done: you've set up a nice CCs worksheet, and used the "Interpret CCs lines" option from the Run menu, after which you run "Elmillon item analysis", again from the Run menu.
You look at the output and realise that there's a need to re-weight some of the items. In fact, your need is so special, you're not even sure how you'd go about creating the *mws lines which seem to be required.
What you need to do is roll up your sleeves, perk some fresh coffee, and get into the depths of a Sub worksheet. You can poke any weights anywhere -- once you have a look at a Sub worksheet, it will (hopefully) be obvious what to do.
Here's a snippet from a Sub worksheet:
What we're looking at here is the weights array corresponding to an item from a subtest having Res=(A,B,C,D,E,F). The item could be an affective one; it could be a cognitive one -- the format of the array is the same. The numbers in the boxes, all 1.00 in this case, correspond to the number of points a person will get if s/he chooses one of the options, A through F.
There are four empty boxes for this item -- they'd also have weights (points) if the item used more response codes.
What's "other"? It's the number of points a person gets if her/his response to the item is not A, B, C, D, E, or F. The person may not have responded at all, in which case there might be a blank in the Data worksheet for this person on this item. Many times scanners will record unanswered items, or "funny" answers, as an asterisk (for example, when a person has shaded in more than one bubble on the answer sheet). Blanks and asterisks are caught by Lertap's other category -- in fact anything which is not one of the six recognised response codes for this item, A through F, will be classed as "other" in Lertap.
Consider again the weights array above. It's essentially saying that a person will get 1.00 points, no matter how s/he responded, or non-responded, to this item. Even unanswers get a point. Crazy? No, not exactly. There are times in the life of test scorers when it's necessary to do this.
Put this "crazy" scoring aside -- it's unusual, yes -- but what we want to point out is that you get can into a Sub worksheet, and poke away at the item weights. Any number, positive or negative, may be placed in any of the weights boxes.
True: *mws cards may be used to accomplish the same thing. In Lertap version 5.25, released 8 August 2003, the power of the *mws card was increased so that it could be used to get weights into the "other" category, as exemplified here:
*mws c12, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, other=1
An *mws line such as this will result in the same weights array seen in the boxes above. (For more examples of other= in action, use the Index, or Search for other=.)
This being the case, it is nonetheless true that some people have a preference for launching their response weights from within a Sub worksheet. The advanced toolbar is for such users.