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The Reliability and Validity of Using Regression Residuals to Measure Institutional Effectiveness in Promoting Degree Completion

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Abstract

A relatively simple way of measuring institutional effectiveness in relation to degree completion is to estimate the difference between an actual and predicted graduation rate, but the reliability and validity of this method have not been thoroughly examined. Longitudinal data were obtained from IPEDS for both public and private not-for-profit 4-year institutions (n = 1496). Hierarchical panel regression was used to predict 4- and 6-year graduation rates based on structural, demographic, financial, and contextual attributes. A direct effects model yielded effectiveness scores that were highly correlated between consecutive data years (r = 0.65–0.80), which indicated acceptable to good test–retest reliability. A test of convergent validity indicated that effectiveness scores were positively associated with students’ perceptions of a supportive campus environment (r = 0.32–0.45). A test of discriminant validity revealed relatively small correlations between effectiveness scores and institutional attributes, such as educational expenditures (r = 0.07–0.16). The modeling of interaction effects in relation to institutional type marginally improved the validity of effectiveness scores among public but not private institutions. The results suggest that correct model specification can yield residual scores that reliably and validly measure institutional effectiveness in promoting timely degree completion.

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Notes

  1. The New Economy Index reflects economic performance in the domains of knowledge jobs, globalization, economic dynamism, the digital economy, and innovation capacity (Atkinson and Andes 2010).

  2. While both the ACT and SAT are used to assess academic preparedness, differences in their content permit only a rough approximation of concordance (ACT 2012).

  3. The NSSE custom analysis service does not permit researchers to examine potential sources of correlation attenuation. In order to examine this possibility, data were collected from 53 public institutions that had publicly accessible data from the 2004 NSSE administration. After removing two high-leverage outliers, the correlation between the NSSE SCE scale and the institutional effectiveness scores was very strong, r = 0.73.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the helpful comments of Ernest Davenport as well as the able assistance provided by Allison BrckaLorenz.

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Correspondence to Giljae Lee.

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Horn, A.S., Lee, G. The Reliability and Validity of Using Regression Residuals to Measure Institutional Effectiveness in Promoting Degree Completion. Res High Educ 57, 469–496 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-015-9394-7

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