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Research article
Development of a character qualities test for medical students in Korea using polytomous item response theory and factor analysis: a preliminary scale development study
Yera Hur1orcid, Dong Gi Seo2*orcid

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3352/jeehp.2023.20.20
Published online: June 26, 2023

1Institute of Medical Education, Hallym University College of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea

2Department of Psychology, Hallym Applied Psychology Institute, College of Social Science, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Korea

*Corresponding email: dgseo@hallym.ac.kr

Editor: Sun Huh, Hallym University, Korea

• Received: May 1, 2023   • Accepted: June 5, 2023

© 2023 Korea Health Personnel Licensing Examination Institute

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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  • Purpose
    This study aimed to develop a test scale to measure the character qualities of medical students as a follow-up study on the 8 core character qualities revealed in a previous report.
  • Methods
    In total, 160 preliminary items were developed to measure 8 core character qualities. Twenty questions were assigned to each quality, and a questionnaire survey was conducted among 856 students in 5 medical schools in Korea. Using the partial credit model, polytomous item response theory analysis was carried out to analyze the goodness-of-fit, followed by exploratory factor analysis. Finally, confirmatory factor and reliability analyses were conducted with the final selected items.
  • Results
    The preliminary items for the 8 core character qualities were administered to the participants. Data from 767 students were included in the final analysis. Of the 160 preliminary items, 25 were removed by classical test theory analysis and 17 more by polytomous item response theory assessment. A total of 118 items and sub-factors were selected for exploratory factor analysis. Finally, 79 items were selected, and the validity and reliability were confirmed through confirmatory factor analysis and intra-item relevance analysis.
  • Conclusion
    The character qualities test scale developed through this study can be used to measure the character qualities corresponding to the educational goals and visions of individual medical schools in Korea. Furthermore, this measurement tool can serve as primary data for developing character qualities tools tailored to each medical school’s vision and educational goals.
Background/rationale
The importance of character education in medical education has long been an issue. Studies on professors and students [1,2] have reported negative perceptions about whether character education in medical education is adequately implemented. Doctors in society require medical knowledge and skills and high standards of ethics, responsibility, and morality. As a result of a survey of medical education experts in the study of Hur [2], the character qualities required for medical students are defined as follows: education that fosters the basic qualities and ability to empathize with patients affected by illness based on respect for patients and others, to have basic ethical awareness and responsibility for human life, and to cooperate and communicate with colleagues.
In order to achieve practical and effective character education for medical students, rather than formal character education, educational methods and evaluation methods must be developed and applied [1,3]. To evaluate character qualities, it is necessary to develop an appropriate tool. Character qualities, which are psychological characteristics of human beings, are difficult to observe or measure directly. Self-report tests are the most frequently used method to measure various personality traits. These tests require less time, effort, and cost than other methods, and it gives respondents the advantage that they can easily express their thoughts and expressions. This method also provides an opportunity for self-evaluation and reflection in answering each question. Therefore, self-report tests can be used as helpful character evaluation tools because they allow a relatively accurate estimation of behaviors and their changes compared to face-to-face interviews [4].
In the field of medical education, item analysis research using the Rasch model is well-known [5]. In Korean medical education, there have been studies on item parameter estimation using item response theory (IRT) for medical licensing examinations [6,7]. IRT estimates the potential nature of a subject based on unique item trait curves for each item constituting the test. It is generally applied to tests that measure cognitive traits, but IRT has recently been applied to developing self-report tools to measure psychological traits [8]. In this study, we intended to develop a self-report test scale that can measure medical students’ character qualities by applying the partial credit model (PCM), which is a polytomous IRT model [9]. The PCM used in this study is suitable for self-reports, such as the Likert scale. Classical test theory and traditional statistical methods, including factor analysis and reliability analysis, were also used.
Objectives
The purpose of this study was to develop measurement scales for a character qualities test that can be used in the field of medical education by exploring the constituent factors of 8 character qualities—namely, service and sacrifice, patience and leadership, honesty and humility, empathy and communication, responsibility and calling, care and respect, collaboration and magnanimity, and, creativity and positivity (hereinafter SPHER3C). These SPHER3C qualities were identified in our previous Delphi study [1]. To this end, first, the conceptualization and constituent factors of the SPHER3C qualities were explored; second, items that can measure the SPHER3C qualities were developed; and third, the reliability and validity of the developed items were verified.
Ethics statement
This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Hallym University (HIRB-2018-049-2-CC). Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.
Study design
This scale development study was described according to the STROBE (Strengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology) statement, available from: https://www.strobe-statement.org/.
Setting
The SPHER3C qualities required for medical students were already extracted through a Delphi survey [1]. The authors developed 20 preliminary questions for each of the SPHER3C qualities, adding up to 160 preliminary questions. During the development of the 160 preliminary questions, they were reviewed by 2 authors to confirm that they satisfactorily expressed the definition of each construct in order to ensure content validity. Five out of 40 medical schools in Korea were selected through judgmental sampling, also considering the medical school’s location and type (public or private). Students enrolled in the 5 medical schools were the study participants, who responded to the preliminary questions developed by the authors. The final items were selected by analyzing the response data through IRT and factor analysis.
Participants
A preliminary survey was conducted targeting 856 medical students in Korea from 5 medical schools. The inclusion criteria were all target students in the 5 medical schools. There were no exclusion criteria. Data from 767 people were analyzed, excluding insincere responses. The academic level and gender distribution of the survey participants are shown in Table 1.
Variables
The definitions and sub-qualities of the SPHER3C required for medical students are shown in Table 2. To measure these qualities, 160 preliminary questions were developed (20 questions for each SPHER3C quality).
Data sources/measurement
To measure the SPHER3C qualities, a tool was developed as a 5-point Likert scale self-reported test with options including “strongly disagree”=1, “disagree”=2, “average”=3, “agree”=4, and “strongly agree”=5. To verify the validity and reliability of the 160 preliminary questions, an offline paper-and-pencil test was conducted from September to December 2019, targeting 856 Korean medical students from the 5 medical schools.
Bias
Students participated in the survey voluntarily; therefore, this study did not have a randomized sample.
Study size
For IRT, 767 examinees were enough to measure the latent traits of the examinees [9].
Statistical methods
As shown in Fig. 1, 5 significant data analysis steps were conducted. To develop a scale that measures the SPHER3C qualities required of medical students, preliminary questions were developed, and the final scale was constructed through the analysis of data obtained from a preliminary survey. To construct the final scale, the R program (https://www.r-project.org/) was used to select items based on classical test theory. Each of the SPHER3C qualities was first selected based on the correlation criterion between the total scores of the items, and then the response distribution of each question was checked to remove additional items that did not have responses of “strongly disagree (=1)” or “strongly agree (=5).”
Through this process, 136 out of 160 items were initially selected. For the first selected items, the DETECT index [10], a single-dimensional test based on IRT, was calculated for each character quality. Among the initially selected items, the R package ‘mirt’ (https://www.r-project.org/) was used for each character quality [11]. In addition, a multi-IRT analysis was conducted to select items secondarily based on the severity, discrimination, and agreement of each item. In the secondary selection, the infit and outfit indices were used to evaluate the agreement of the items. For the secondarily selected items, exploratory factor analysis was conducted using R (https://www.r-project.org/), and after the final item selection was completed, confirmatory factor analysis was performed using Mplus ver. 8.3 (Muthén & Muthén). Furthermore, the reliability analysis and discrimination analysis of each character quality were conducted. These 5 analytical steps are described in detail below:
Step 1. First, for the primary item selection, items were selected based on the item-total score correlation, which is used to measure the degree of discrimination in classical test theory. For the item-total score correlation, a score of 0.30 or higher was considered appropriate [12], but only items with a score of 0.2 or higher were selected in consideration of the screening procedure that would be performed later. Then, the response distribution of each item was checked, and items with very low severity due to no responses of “strongly disagree (=1)” and items with very high severity due to no responses of “strongly agree (=5)” were also removed because those items did not convey meaningful information about the participants.
Step 2. Before the secondary item selection, after confirming whether the selected items had unidimensionality, polytomous IRT analysis was conducted. The PCM used in this study is a representative polytomous IRT model. Each item’s boundary parameters and item agreement were checked, including the infit and outfit agreement [9]. Although various standards can be established according to the validation process for each item, items with a score of around 1 point are judged to be good [13]. In this analysis, items with infit and outfit indices of 0.7 or more and less than 1.2 were selected as items with good item agreement.
Step 3. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted for item selection. Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) values and Bartlett’s sphericity test values were examined to verify the application of exploratory factor analysis. The closer the KMO value is to 1, the more appropriate the correlation of the data is for factor analysis. Usually, if it is 0.8 or higher, it is considered good, and if the Bartlett sphericity test is rejected, it means that there is a common factor in the data. The maximum likelihood method was used for exploratory factor analysis, and for the factor rotation method, Geomin rotation, which is an oblique rotation method, was mainly used. For the “honesty and humility” character quality, where each sub-factor is judged to be independent, varimax rotation, which is a direct rotation method, was applied. The final items were chosen for factor selection by checking whether there were any items with a factor loading of 0.30 or less or a variable complexity with high factor loading across several factors.
Step 4. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted on the selected items to verify the suitability of the factor structure obtained from the results of exploratory factor analysis. As for the fitness of the model, along with verification, the comparative fit index (CFI), Tucker-Lewis index (TLI), and root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA), which are less sensitive to sample size, were confirmed. In general, a CFI and TLI of 0.90 or higher can be interpreted as indicating that a model is good, and an RMSEA of 0.08 or less can be regarded as indicating a good model [14].
Step 5. Finally, Cronbach’s α was calculated to confirm the internal consistency of the items. The correlation between the total scores and items was calculated to evaluate items’ discrimination index.
Raw response data of medical students in Korea from 5 medical schools are available from Dataset 1. Data of confirmatory factor analysis coding are available from Dataset 2.
Classical test theory item analysis
Through classical test theory analysis, 135 items were initially selected, ranging from 12 to 19 items for each quality. When examining items based on classical test theory, the number of items selected for each character quality is shown in Table 3. The first-round selection was based on item-total score correlation and response distribution for each item (Supplement 1). Using the item-total score correlation, the items were selected based on the 0.2 criterion rather than the 0.3 criterion in consideration of the multiple-item selection process to be performed subsequently. The second round selection was based on the response distribution for each item, this involved a process of checking the percentage of all people who gave responses from “strongly disagree (=1)” to “strongly agree (=5)” for each item. The severity of the item was judged to be very low or high and was removed.
Polytomous item response theory analysis
Based on classical test theory, the PCM was used for the initially selected items to calculate the latent score. The single-dimensional test index (DETECT) was confirmed. DETECT was computed using the sirt package [15], and the mirt package [11] was used for item analysis and latent score calculation. For the DETECT index, a score of 1 or more indicates strong multidimensionality, a score of 0.4 or more and less than 1 indicates moderate multidimensionality, and a score of less than 0.2 indicates sufficient single-dimensionality. In the case of the DETECT index, negative numbers can appear, which means that the given data has unidimensionality [10].
For the initially-selected items, all the DETECT indexes were negative, indicating unidimensionality, and IRT analysis was conducted for each character quality. The PCM model selected only items with infit and outfit of 0.7 or more and less than 1.2 and good boundary parameters with ordinality (Supplement 2). The number of items selected for each character quality is shown in Table 3.
Exploratory factor analysis
The result of the exploratory factor analysis of the SPHER3C qualities was as follows. Tables showing the exploratory factor analysis of each character quality were added as Supplement 3, and the number of items selected for each character quality is shown in Table 3. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted within each of the 8 character qualities because each character quality is known to be independent from the other.

Service and sacrifice

As a result of exploratory factor analysis on 15 items for “service and sacrifice” after 2 rounds of screening, 1 factor with an eigenvalue of 1 or more was extracted from the scree plot. Four factors were extracted based on parallel analysis. However, based on the interpretability of the factors and the clarity of the factor structure, selecting 2 factors could be interpreted more clearly. The items with redundant loadings were removed, and the final 10 items were selected.

Patience and leadership

We conducted an exploratory factor analysis on 17 items for “patience and leadership” that went through 2 rounds of item selection, and 2 factors with an eigenvalue of 1 or more were extracted. In addition, when a parallel analysis was performed, five factors were extracted. Based on these results, the 2-factor structure was appropriate in terms of the interpretability of the factors and the clarity of the factor structure. Therefore, when the number of factors was specified and analyzed as 2 factors, and the results were confirmed, the final 10 items were selected by removing items with low factor loading and items with high variable complexity.

Honesty and humility

Twelve items were selected for “honesty and humility” through 2 rounds of review. As a result of exploratory factor analysis, 1 factor with an eigenvalue of 1 or more was extracted, and 4 factors were extracted through parallel analysis. However, in terms of the interpretability of the factors and the clarity of the factor structure, the 2-factor structure was appropriate. Therefore, the number of factors was designated and analyzed as 2, and the final 9 items were selected by removing 3 items with low factor loadings.

Empathy and communication

After 2 rounds of item selection, exploratory factor analysis was conducted on 16 items for “empathy and communication.” One factor with an eigenvalue of 1 or more was extracted, and 4 factors were extracted based on parallel analysis. However, since the interpretation of the 2-factor structure is clear, the analysis was conducted with 2 factors. Among the 16 items, cases with low factor loadings or high variable complexity were removed to select the final 10 items.

Responsibility and calling

“Responsibility and calling” items were selected through 2 reviews of 13 items. As a result of exploratory factor analysis, 2 factors with an eigenvalue of 1 or more were extracted, and 3 factors were extracted when parallel analysis was performed. The 2-factor structure was appropriate regarding the interpretability of the 2-factor and 3-factor structures and the clarity of the factor structure. Therefore, the number of factors was designated and analyzed as 2, and the final 10 items were selected by removing 3 items with low factor loadings or high variable complexity.

Care and respect

After 2 rounds of item screening, 11 items were selected for “care and respect.” Through the second item screening and as a result of exploratory factor analysis, 1 factor with an eigenvalue of 1 or more was extracted, and 4 factors were extracted as a result of the parallel analysis. However, considering the possibility of interpretability, the exploratory factor analysis was conducted based on the 2 factors because a good factor analysis was possible for the 2 factors. The final 10 items were selected after removing the items with low factor loadings.

Collaboration and magnanimity

For “collaboration and magnanimity,” 15 items were selected through 2 reviews, and as a result of exploratory factor analysis, 2 factors with an eigenvalue of 1 or more were extracted. Four factors were extracted as a result of the parallel analysis. Considering these results, the number of factors was selected as 2 based on the interpretability of the factors and the clarity of the factor structure. The final 10 items were selected after removing items with low factor loading and high variable complexity.

Creativity and positivity

For “creativity and positivity,” 17 items were selected through 2 rounds of item review, and as a result of exploratory factor analysis, 2 factors with an eigenvalue of 1 or more were extracted. Four factors were extracted as a result of the parallel analysis. Here, the number of factors was selected as 2, based on the interpretability of the factors and the clarity of the factor structure. Among the 17 items, no items with factor loadings of 0.30 or less were found, but items with factor loadings of 0.40 or less were removed to compose items with a structure similar to other factors. Furthermore, items with variable complexity or low factor loadings were removed, resulting in 10 final items.
Confirmatory factor analysis
Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted to determine whether it was appropriate to construct a tool to measure the 8 SPHER3C qualities with a factor structure obtained through exploratory factor analysis. As shown in Table 4 and Supplement 4, the model’s goodness of fit was found to be appropriate. Only the “honesty and humility” quality had a CFI and TLI that were less than 0.90, and RMSEA was above 0.80, indicating the poor fit.
Reliability analysis
Cronbach’s α values for the SPHER3C factors ranged between 0.637 and 0.784 for each sub-factor (Table 5). Sub-factors with final selected items showed good internal consistency. In addition, to collect basic information for evaluating the quality of each item, the item-total correlation (item discrimination index) was calculated. As a result, the total score-item correlations for all sub-factors were higher than 0.30.
Final items selected for the SPHER3C test
Supplement 5 shows the 79 final items of the scale in Korean SPHER3C qualities of the medical students. The English version of the final items can be found in Supplement 3.
Key results
In order to develop a character quality test for medical students, 160 preliminary questions were developed according to the sub-qualities and definitions of the SPHER3C qualities. We analyzed the data obtained from the primary test tool for Korean medical students. To develop the final tool, 81 items were removed by applying classical test theory, PCM in polytomous IRT, and exploratory factor analysis to select the final items and sub-factors. A total of 79 final items were selected, and the validity and reliability of the items were confirmed through confirmatory factor analysis for each of the SPHER3C factors and intra-item relevance analysis.
Interpretation
In the past, there have been studies on character qualities in medical students or the development of tools to measure medical professionalism. However, there has been no study measuring the character qualities of Korean medical students. The strength of this study lies here; consequently, it is difficult to compare this study with the results of other studies as there are no previous studies for comparison.
The final test to measure the character qualities of medical students consisted of 8 character qualities (SPHER3C), 16 sub-factors, and 79 items. The final test was constructed to measure 10 items for each quality, except for “honesty and humility” quality, for which we could only extract 9 items.
The validity of the final test was confirmed through confirmatory factor analysis of the items and factor structure selected through PCM and exploratory factor analysis. All showed a good fit, meeting the corresponding criteria. The Cronbach’s α coefficient of the 79 finally selected questions was 0.929, indicating high reliability.
Limitations and suggestions
The limitations of this study and suggestions for follow-up studies are as follows.
First, this study’s character qualities test was written in Korean. When using translated items in another language, the items must reflect the social and cultural differences of the region where the test will be conducted. It also must be determined that the translation is similar to what the original test intends to measure by conducting measurement equivalence verification. For “collaboration and magnanimity,” only the reverse-scored items were selected as the items for the inclusion factor. However, since the item-total correlation was positive, this did not appear to be a reverse scoring problem. This may have been because there were too many grading questions that students did not mark carefully. Alternatively, unlike English, Korean-language responses to negative sentences may not be clear.
Second, this study analyzed data obtained through 160 preliminary items, extracting 79 items. A follow-up study for data collection and verification of the finally constructed test with 79 items would be needed. In particular, it is necessary to verify test-retest reliability and accreditation validity.
Third, the character qualities test questions developed in this study were not designed as questions in a medical situation. This was to allow first-year students with no medical education background to take the test, since we wanted a tool that could be taken for all medical students regardless of their academic level. However, to evaluate character qualities in a specific situation, it is necessary to develop a situational judgment test in addition to a self-reported measure or a test that applies behavioral anchored rating scales (BARS) instead of a Likert scale. Although self-reported tests are valuable tools for character measurement, they also have limitations. A situational judgment test or BARS scale can supplement the limitations of self-report tests.
Conclusion
To develop a test to measure the SPHER3C factors in medical students, the PCM can be applied through IRT. The quality of the character qualities evaluation tool could be improved by applying goodness-of-fit tests for item selection. In addition, the tool’s validity was ensured by using factor analysis, a traditional statistical method, during test development. The SPHER3C test can be used to measure the character quality factors corresponding to the educational goals and talents of each university in Korea and utilized as primary data for developing a character qualities measurement tool tailored to each university’s vision and educational goals.

Authors’ contributions

Conceptualization: YH. Data curation: DGS. Formal analysis: YH. Funding acquisition: YH. Methodology: YH, DGS. Project administration: YH. Visualization: DGS, YH. Writing–original draft: YH, DGS. Writing–review & editing: YH, DGS.

Conflict of interest

Yera Hur has worked as an Associate Editor of Journal of Educational Evaluation for Health Professions since 2015. However, she was not involved in the peer reviewer selection, evaluation, or decision process of this article. Otherwise, no other potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.

Funding

This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2018S1A5A2A01038037).

Data availability

Data files are available from Harvard Dataverse: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/UE55JT

Dataset 1. Raw response data of medical students in Korea from 5 medical schools.

jeehp-20-20-dataset1.xlsx

Dataset 2. Data of confirmatory factor analysis coding.

jeehp-20-20-dataset2.xlsx

None.
Supplementary files are available from Harvard Dataverse: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/UE55JT
Supplement 1. Response distribution for each item on the SPHER3C factors.
jeehp-20-20-suppl1.xlsx
Supplement 2. Item parameters (partial credit model) for each item on the SPHER3C factors.
jeehp-20-20-suppl2.xlsx
Supplement 3. The exploratory factor analysis verification results of the SPHER3C qualities, including English translation of the final items for core character qualities test for medical students.
jeehp-20-20-suppl3.xlsx
Supplement 4. The confirmatory factor analysis verification results of the SPHER3C qualities.
jeehp-20-20-suppl4.docx
Supplement 5. Final items selected for core character qualities test for medical students in Korean.
jeehp-20-20-suppl5.docx
Supplement 6. Audio recording of the abstract.
jeehp-20-20-abstract-recording.avi
Fig. 1.
Study design and analytic process. SPHER3C, service and sacrifice, patience and leadership, honesty, and humility, empathy and communication, responsibility and calling, care and respect, collaboration and magnanimity, creativity and positivity.
jeehp-20-20f1.jpg
jeehp-20-20f2.jpg
Table 1.
Academic-year and gender-based distribution of the participants
Classification Frequency (%)
Gender
 Male 481 (62.7)
 Female 279 (36.4)
 No indication 7 (0.9)
 Total 767 (100.0)
Academic level
 Year 1 130 (16.9)
 Year 2 878 (11.5)
 Year 3 315 (41.1)
 Year 4 119 (15.5)
 Year 5 81 (10.6)
 Year 6 34 (4.4)
 Total 767 (100.0)
Table 2.
Definition and sub-elements of 8 core character qualities
Core character qualities Definition Sub-qualities
Service and sacrifice The attitude of thinking of others (patients) before one’s own personal interests, sacrificing oneself for others, devoting oneself to society, and practicing volunteer work through medical practice Service, sacrifice, dedication, devotion, altruistic attitude, warmth, concession, fraternity, appreciation
Patience and leadership Attitudes and ability to reflect on, examine, and endure difficult situations, to view health care in its social context, and to reach an agreement with other members of an organization Patience, leadership, self-reflection, self-identity, social cognitive ability
Honesty and humility Being faithful or honest to yourself or others in a straightforward way, without lies or deception, without being arrogant or ignorant of others, and knowing how to act in a humble way Honesty, diligence, humility, ethical judgment, morality, conscience, moral judgment, authenticity
Empathy and communication Attitude and ability to interact and communicate well while accurately communicating thoughts and emotions, knowing how to understand and sympathize with others’ thoughts, feelings, and perspectives Communication skills, empathy, expressive power, conflict management, listening, sincerity
Responsibility and calling The intention of fulfilling one’s tasks faithfully and responsibly, protecting the fundamental rights and human rights of patients, appreciating the doctor’s profession, and contributing to society through the profession Responsibility, medical ethics, accountability, calling, sense of duty
Care and respect Acting in consideration of the position of others, understanding and respecting other positions, respecting the noble nature of life, being attentive to care for others, and caring for others Consideration, respect for people, respect for life, kindness, tolerance
Collaboration and magnanimity Attitude and ability to be interested in group and community issues, interacting with members, and working together to achieve common goals Cooperation, an embracing spirit, community, mutual exchange, interdependence
Creativity and positivity The attitude of not being confined to existing frameworks but being able to look at things and situations with new and open eyes, and seeking various ways to solve problems with good results even in difficult situations Creativity, positivity, open-mindedness, mindfulness of looking at problems from multiple angles, courage

Modified from Tables 2 and 3 from Hur & Lee. J Educ Eval Health Prof 2019;16:21 [1].

Table 3.
Number of selected items from the first and second rounds of selection and exploratory factor analysis
Core character qualities Preliminary items Primary selection of items Secondary selection of items Selection from factor analysis
Service and sacrifice 20 19 15 10
Patience and leadership 20 17 17 10
Honesty and humility 20 12 12 9
Empathy and communication 20 18 16 10
Responsibility and calling 20 16 13 10
Care and respect 20 17 11 10
Collaboration and magnanimity 20 19 15 10
Creativity and positivity 20 17 17 10
Total 160 135 118 79

First-round selection: item-total correlation, second-round selection: item response distribution.

Table 4.
Results of confirmatory factor analysis
Core character qualities χ2 (df) CFL TLI RMSEA
Service and sacrifice 103.152 (34)* 0.957 0.943 0.0051 (0.04–0.0063)
Patience and leadership 112.194 (34)* 0.930 0.907 0.055 (0.044–0.0066)
Honesty and humility 193.134 (26)* 0.818 0.749 0.092 (0.08–0.104)
Empathy and communication 168.432 (34)* 0.922 0.897 0.072 (0.061–0.083)
Responsibility and calling 98.003 (34)* 0.940 0.920 0.05 (0.038–0.061)
Care and respect 9.272 (34)* 0.962 0.949 0.046 (0.035–0.058)
Collaboration and magnanimity 112.327 (34)* 0.957 0.943 0.055 (0.044–0.066)
Creativity and positivity 181.509 (34)* 0.916 0.889 0.075 (0.065–0.086)

df, degree of freedom; CFL, comparative fit index; TLI, Tucker-Lewis index; RMSEA, root mean square error of approximation.

* P<0.05.

Table 5.
Reliability scores of SPHER3C and sub-factors
Core character qualities Mean±SD ITC Cronbach’s α
Service and sacrifice
 Service 0.720
  I1 3.294±1.053 0.426 0.716
  I17 3.873±0.804 0.495 0.682
  I33 3.855±0.781 0.648 0.632
  I41 3.619±0.877 0.506 0.675
  I129 3.661±0.780 0.561 0.660
 Sacrifice 0.726
  I49 3.520±0.882 0.472 0.697
  I73 3.455±0.839 0.528 0.679
  I81 3.154±0.969 0.534 0.671
  I89 3.020±0.948 0.49 0.689
  I97 3.267±0.977 0.559 0.661
 Total 3.472 0.801
Patience and leadership
 Patience 0.723
  I24 3.402±0.967 0.628 0.634
  I32 3.142±1.102 0.523 0.669
  I40 2.807±1.039 0.464 0.691
  I128 2.737±1.020 0.402 0.714
  I160 3.253±0.984 0.533 0.667
 Leadership 0.61
  I64 3.675±0.841 0.284 0.604
  I72 3.617±0.885 0.436 0.534
  I112 3.706±0.932 0.407 0.547
  I144 3.736±0.804 0.470 0.525
  I152 3.390±0.975 0.369 0.567
 Total 3.350 6.570
Honesty and humility
 Humility 0.560
  I108 4.150±0.732 0.287 0.605
  I132 3.190±1.061 0.447 0.363
  I156 3.570±1.017 0.478 0.321
 Honesty 0.655
  I12 3.955±0.778 0.52 0.584
  I84 3.853±0.775 0.469 0.600
  I100 3.628±0.838 0.403 0.617
  I116 3.503±0.812 0.359 0.630
  I124 3.009±1.071 0.366 0.635
  I140 3.560±0.854 0.411 0.613
 Total 3.602 0.622
Empathy and communication
 Communication 0.800
  I34 3.513±0.924 0.637 0.757
  I50 3.430±0.997 0.660 0.750
  I58 3.838±0.763 0.580 0.778
  I138 3.783±0.768 0.614 0.769
  I154 3.685±0.822 0.655 0.754
 Empathy 0.640
  I2 3.898±0.774 0.368 0.613
  I66 3.728±0.758 0.525 0.543
  I106 3.831±0.731 0.430 0.586
  I114 3.686±0.826 0.366 0.613
  I122 3.692±0.813 0.457 0.570
 Total 3.708 0.790
Responsibility and calling
 Calling 0.711
  I13 2.650±0.971 0.443 0.683
  I21 2.761±0.874 0.526 0.652
  I69 2.971±0.916 0.559 0.637
  I85 2.896±0.989 0.48 0.668
  I133 2.847±0.918 0.468 0.672
 Responsibility 0.632
  I5 3.827±0.937 0.390 0.592
  I29 3.910±0.863 0.431 0.573
  I37 3.556±0.891 0.494 0.538
  I53 4.144±0.734 0.404 0.592
  I77 3.294±1.009 0.375 0.598
 Total 3.286 0.654
Care and respect
 Care 0.700
  I67 3.827±0.770 0.527 0.647
  I75 3.959±0.681 0.517 0.656
  I123 3.915±0.706 0.525 0.651
  I131 3.788±0.755 0.461 0.672
  I155 4.149±0.714 0.527 0.650
 Respect 0.700
  I3 4.294±0.725 0.540 0.647
  I19 3.938±0.689 0.457 0.673
  I27 4.222±0.729 0.582 0.627
  I35 4.021±0.721 0.457 0.672
  I51 4.073±0.730 0.530 0.646
 Total 4.019 0.793
Collaboration and magnanimity
 Magnanimity 0.815
  I14 3.441±1.041 0.467 0.823
  I54 3.19±1.138 0.682 0.764
  I62 3.031±1.124 0.64 0.776
  I70 3.237±1.076 0.693 0.762
  I78 3.366±1.132 0.698 0.761
 Collaboration 0.674
  I86 3.912±0.76 0.425 0.643
  I102 3.959±0.765 0.497 0.616
  I110 3.777±0.755 0.444 0.634
  I118 3.925±0.706 0.541 0.599
  I158 3.957±0.687 0.472 0.627
 Total 3.580 0.768
Creativity and positivity
 Creativity 0.779
  I55 3.194±0.973 0.655 0.714
  I63 3.469±0.992 0.534 0.753
  I71 3.315±0.959 0.449 0.778
  I111 3.140±1.000 0.659 0.711
  I127 3.380±0.996 0.618 0.726
 Positivity 0.709
  I15 3.749±0.855 0.539 0.645
  I23 3.808±0.803 0.452 0.679
  I31 3.905±0.770 0.534 0.652
  I39 3.889±0.910 0.487 0.670
  I47 3.86±0.791 0.52 0.656
 Total 3.571 0.752

SPHER3C, service and sacrifice, patience and leadership, honesty and humility, empathy and communication, responsibility and calling, care and respect, collaboration and magnanimity, creativity and positivity; SD, standard deviation; ITC, item-total correlation.

Figure & Data

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