Theses Doctoral

A Three-Paper Dissertation on Longitudinal Data Analysis in Education and Psychology

Ahmadi, Hedyeh

In longitudinal settings, modeling the covariance structure of repeated measure data is essential for proper analysis. The first paper in this three-paper dissertation presents a survey of four journals in the fields of Education and Psychology to identify the most commonly used methods for analyzing longitudinal data. It provides literature reviews and statistical details for each identified method. This paper also offers a summary table giving the benefits and drawbacks of all the surveyed methods in order to help researchers choose the optimal model according to the structure of their data. Finally, this paper highlights that even when scholars do use more advanced methods for analyzing repeated measure data, they very rarely report (or explore in their discussions) the covariance structure implemented in their choice of modeling. This suggests that, at least in some cases, researchers may not be taking advantage of the optimal covariance patterns. This paper identifies a gap in the standard statistical practices of the fields of Education and Psychology, namely that researchers are not modeling the covariance structure as an extension of fixed/random effects modeling. The second paper introduces the General Serial Covariance (GSC) approach, an extension of the Linear Mixed Modeling (LMM) or Hierarchical Linear Model (HLM) techniques that models the covariance structure using spatial correlation functions such as Gaussian, Exponential, and other patterns. These spatial correlations model the covariance structure in a continuous manner and therefore can deal with missingness and imbalanced data in a straightforward way. A simulation study in the second paper reveals that when data are consistent with the GSC model, using basic HLMs is not optimal for the estimation and testing of the fixed effects. The third paper is a tutorial that uses a real-world data set from a drug abuse prevention intervention to demonstrate the use of the GSC and basic HLM models in R programming language. This paper utilizes variograms (a visualization tool borrowed from geostatistics) among other exploratory tools to determine the covariance structure of the repeated measure data. This paper aims to introduce the GSC model and variogram plots to Education and Psychology, where, according to the survey in the first paper, they are not in use. This paper can also help scholars seeking guidance for interpreting the fixed effect-parameters.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Measurement and Evaluation
Thesis Advisors
Tipton, Elizabeth
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 25, 2019