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Exploratory Analysis of Differential Item Functioning and Its Possible Sources in the National Survey of Student Engagement DIF NSSE ANCOVA

McKeown, Stephanie Barclay; Oliveri, Maria Elena
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Exploratory Data Analysis, Differential Item Functioning (DIF), National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), International Students, Test Validity, Higher Education, Student Experience, Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA)


In this study, we examined differential item functioning (DIF) of the Deep Approaches to Learning scale on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) for Asian international and Canadian domestic 1st-year university students. We also examined its potential sources of using focus-group interview results. Only 1 of the 12 items functioned differentially, possibly due to differences in how each group interpreted the term “faculty members” in the NSSE. Further research should be conducted beyond this initial exploratory study to examine DIF with other international student groups classified by country and/or language.

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