Within social science research, data are often collected using a measurement instrument that produces ordered-categorical data. When comparing scores created from a measurement instrument across subpopulations, measurement invariance must be a tenable assumption. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Item Response Theory (IRT) are two unobserved conditional approaches to assessing measurement invariance. Within the research literature, there are three often cited simulation studies that compare the two unobserved conditional invariance techniques. Because the research design of the three studies varied greatly, the results of the studies are contradictory and not comparable. In this simulation study, the true positive (TP) and false positive (FP) rates of the IRT and CFA approaches to assessing measurement invariance are evaluated under four manipulated factors: (a) source of Differential Item Functioning (DIF), (b) size of DIF, (c) sample size, and (d) baseline model. The parameters used for the data generation came from a five-item unidimensional scale with four ordered-categories (i.e., Likert-scale). The results suggest that the IRT model using a free-baseline is the most precise model. Additionally, regardless of the model chosen, a free-baseline model is most favorable across all conditions of source of DIF, size of DIF, and sample size. Finally, the TP and FP rates of the studied models vary as a function of source of DIF, size of DIF, sample size, and baseline model. The significance of these results for social science research is discussed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2014. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisors: Ernest C. Davenport, Jr, Geoffrey M Maruyama. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 133 pages.
Love, Quintin Ulysses Adrian.
Revisiting three comparisons of unobserved conditional invariance techniques for the detection of differential item functioning.
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