Date of Award

5-7-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Phill Gagné

Second Advisor

L. Juane Heflin

Third Advisor

Deanne Swan

Fourth Advisor

Regine Haardörfer

Fifth Advisor

John Young

Abstract

Most quantitative research is conducted by randomly selecting members of a population on which to conduct a study. When statistics are run on a sample, and not the entire population of interest, they are subject to a certain amount of error. Many factors can impact the amount of error, or bias, in statistical estimates. One important factor is sample size; larger samples are more likely to minimize bias than smaller samples. Therefore, determining the necessary sample size to obtain accurate statistical estimates is a critical component of designing a quantitative study.

Much research has been conducted on the impact of sample size on simple statistical techniques such as group mean comparisons and ordinary least squares regression. Less sample size research, however, has been conducted on complex techniques such as hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). HLM, also known as multilevel modeling, is used to explain and predict an outcome based on knowledge of other variables in nested populations. Ordinal logistic HLM (OLHLM) is used when the outcome variable has three or more ordered categories. While there is a growing body of research on sample size for two-level HLM utilizing a continuous outcome, there is no existing research exploring sample size for OLHLM.

The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of sample size on statistical estimates for ordinal logistic hierarchical linear modeling. A Monte Carlo simulation study was used to investigate this research query. Four variables were manipulated: level-one sample size, level-two sample size, sample outcome category allocation, and predictor-criterion correlation. Statistical estimates explored include bias in level-one and level-two parameters, power, and prediction accuracy.

Results indicate that, in general, holding other conditions constant, bias decreases as level-one sample size increases. However, bias increases or remains unchanged as level-two sample size increases, holding other conditions constant. Power to detect the independent variable coefficients increased as both level-one and level-two sample size increased, holding other conditions constant. Overall, prediction accuracy is extremely poor. The overall prediction accuracy rate across conditions was 47.7%, with little variance across conditions. Furthermore, there is a strong tendency to over-predict the middle outcome category.

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