Assessing Early Child Development: Issues of Measurement Invariance and Psychometric Validity

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Title: Assessing Early Child Development: Issues of Measurement Invariance and Psychometric Validity
Authors: Duku, Eric K.
Date: 2013
Abstract: The measurement of reliable and valid indicators of early child development is necessary for assessing phenomena and is useful in the monitoring of ongoing efforts to eradicate inequalities in the social determinants of health. There is an increasing awareness of the contextual, cultural, and developmental influences on constructs used in early child development (ECD) research. Using a measurement perspective, this dissertation examined the issue of measurement invariance and psychometric validity in early child development research. A construct violates the principle of invariance when two persons from different populations who are theoretically identical on the construct being measured have different scores on it. This dissertation consists of three journal-style manuscripts (published or under review) that were used as examples to address the importance of the issue of measurement invariance and psychometric validity in ECD research using data from two unique areas: autism and executive functioning. The three data sets were collected on pre-school children with parents and or teachers as informants and were chosen to represent different levels of data collection – clinical, community, and population. These data sets allowed for the examination of measurement invariance by type of informant, sex, and age of child. The results from the three studies illustrate the importance of assessing measurement invariance in ECD and whether or not the instruments examined can be used to assess sub-group differences with confidence. A lack of measurement invariance found for two of the studies, suggests that observed group differences in latent constructs could be attributed, in part, to measurement bias. More importantly, bias in the measurement of the constructs of severity of social impairment symptoms in autism, and executive functioning across groups could have an impact on services such as patient treatment. These biases could also influence public policy development, particularly when there may be an underlying need for a cross-group approach where belief systems may affect the meaning and structure of constructs. In summary, measurement invariance should be a prerequisite for making any meaningful comparisons across groups. A requirement of establishing measurement invariance should be included in the guidelines for comparative research studies as a necessary first step before an instrument is adopted for use.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/24097
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-2979
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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