Testing Measurement Invariance of the Learning Programme Management and Evaluation Scale across Academic Achievement

By Mulaudzi, Maelekanyo C. | SA Journal of Human Resource Management, January 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Testing Measurement Invariance of the Learning Programme Management and Evaluation Scale across Academic Achievement


Mulaudzi, Maelekanyo C., SA Journal of Human Resource Management


Introduction

Social science researchers are increasingly concerned with testing for measurement invariance; that is, determining if items used in survey-type instruments mean the same thing to members of different groups (Cheung & Rensvold, 2002). This concern is inevitable because measurement invariance is a key aspect of the scale development process, especially where the target population is heterogeneous. According to Van de Schoot, Schmidt, De Beuckelaer, Lek and Zondervan-Zwijnenburg (2015), a meaningful comparison of latent factor means between groups of a heterogeneous population could be achieved if the measurement structures of the latent factor and their survey items are stable, that is, invariant. Very often, researchers ignore measurement invariance issues and compare latent factor means across groups or measurement occasions even though the psychometric basis for such a practice does not hold. However, measurement invariance is a fundamental requirement in both applied and scientific use of measurement instruments (Blankson & McArdle, 2015). Researchers invest their time in writing scale items that are unambiguous and clear, and item analyses are carried out to select the best items that comprise a measurement instrument. However, it has often been assumed that the items of a measurement instrument will have the same connotations and meanings for all people and therefore the scale is invariant in comparisons of people of different classifications (Horn & McArdle, 1992). If this assumption of invariance is incorrect, then conclusions of group comparisons based on results from studies applying such a measurement instrument are likely to be incorrect.

As Blankson and McArdle (2015) state, regardless of its importance, measurement invariance has been more often neglected in behavioural sciences than it has been evaluated. The invariance assumption has rarely been stated as a hypothesis and tested, although increasing attention is being paid by researchers to this issue in recent times (Adolf, Schuurman, Borkenau, Borsboom & Dolan, 2014; Bowden, Saklofske & Weiss, 2011; Chiorri, Day & Malmberg, 2014; Guenole & Brown, 2014; Hox, De Leew & Zijlmans, 2015; Savage-McGlynn, 2012; Tshilongamulenzhe, 2015; Van de Schoot, Lutgtig & Hox, 2012; Van de Schoot et al., 2013, 2015; Wang, Merkle & Zeileis, 2014; Zercher, Schmidt, Cieciuch & Davidov, 2015). Consequently, the question of measurement invariance should be considered in all behavioural science research wherein analyses are directed at showing that measured attributes, and the relationships among such attributes, are different for different classes of people or for the same people measured under different circumstances (Blankson & McArdle, 2015). To this end, the primary objective of this study is to heighten awareness among researchers involved in new scale development in order to ensure that the measurement instruments they design and their underlying constructs have proper structural alignment, and that they both have the same level of meaning and significance across comparable heterogeneous groups. Such awareness is particularly important if the success of studies applying newly developed measures hinge on the possibility of making meaningful comparisons across groups.

Brief context of the study and an overview of the Learning Programme Management and Evaluation scale

Guided by the scale development protocol suggested by DeVellis (2012), Tshilongamulenzhe (2012) developed a new Learning Programme Management and Evaluation (LPME) scale which seeks to enhance the effectiveness of management and evaluation practices pertaining to occupational learning programmes (OLPs) in South Africa. These programmes have been proclaimed by the South African government as a fundamental mechanism to address skills shortages; hence, vocational and occupational certification via learnership and apprenticeship programmes is at the core of the new skills creation system (Tshilongamulenzhe, Coetzee & Masenge, 2013). …

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