Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Department of Graduate Psychology
Donna L. Sundre
Questions regarding the quality of education, both in K-12 systems and higher education, are common. Methods for measuring quality in education have been developed in the past decades, with value-added estimates emerging as one of the most well-known methods. Value-added methods purport to indicate how much students learn over time as a result of their attendance at a particular school. Controversy has surrounded the algorithms used to generate value-added estimates as well as the uses of the estimates to make decisions about school and teacher quality. In higher education, most institutions used cross-sectional rather than longitudinal data to estimate value-added. In addition, much of the data used to generate value-added estimates in higher education were gathered in low-stakes testing sessions. In low-stakes contexts, examinee motivation has been shown to impact test performance. Additionally, recent empirical evidence indicated that the change in test-taking motivation between pre-and post-test was a predictor of change in performance. Because of this, researchers have suggested that test-taking motivation may bias value-added estimates. Further, if interest truly lies in measuring student learning over time, the use of cross-sectional data is problematic, since the pre- and post-test data is gathered from two different groups of students, not the same students at two time points. The current study investigated two overarching questions related to value-added estimation in higher education: 1) are different methods of value-added estimation comparable?; and 2) how does test-taking motivation impact value-added estimates? In this study, first the results from value-added estimates calculated with cross-sectional and longitudinal data were compared. Next, estimates generated from two value-added models were compared: raw difference scores and a longitudinal hierarchical linear model. Finally, estimates were compared when motivation variables were included. Results indicated that at the institution under study, cross-sectional and longitudinal data and analyses yielded similar results and that changes in test-taking motivation between pre- and post-test did impact value-added estimates. Suggestions to combat the effect of motivation on value-added estimates included behavioral as well as statistical interventions.
Williams, Laura M., "The Effect of Examinee Motivation on Value-Added Estimates" (2015). Dissertations. 27.