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Propensity score estimation with random forests

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Random Forests is a statistical learning method which has been proposed for propensity score estimation models that involve complex interactions, nonlinear relationships, or both of the covariates. In this dissertation I conducted a simulation study to examine the effects of

Random Forests is a statistical learning method which has been proposed for propensity score estimation models that involve complex interactions, nonlinear relationships, or both of the covariates. In this dissertation I conducted a simulation study to examine the effects of three Random Forests model specifications in propensity score analysis. The results suggested that, depending on the nature of data, optimal specification of (1) decision rules to select the covariate and its split value in a Classification Tree, (2) the number of covariates randomly sampled for selection, and (3) methods of estimating Random Forests propensity scores could potentially produce an unbiased average treatment effect estimate after propensity scores weighting by the odds adjustment. Compared to the logistic regression estimation model using the true propensity score model, Random Forests had an additional advantage in producing unbiased estimated standard error and correct statistical inference of the average treatment effect. The relationship between the balance on the covariates' means and the bias of average treatment effect estimate was examined both within and between conditions of the simulation. Within conditions, across repeated samples there was no noticeable correlation between the covariates' mean differences and the magnitude of bias of average treatment effect estimate for the covariates that were imbalanced before adjustment. Between conditions, small mean differences of covariates after propensity score adjustment were not sensitive enough to identify the optimal Random Forests model specification for propensity score analysis.

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Date Created
2013

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The accuracy of accuracy estimates for single form dichotomous classification exams

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The use of exams for classification purposes has become prevalent across many fields including professional assessment for employment screening and standards based testing in educational settings. Classification exams assign individuals to performance groups based on the comparison of their observed

The use of exams for classification purposes has become prevalent across many fields including professional assessment for employment screening and standards based testing in educational settings. Classification exams assign individuals to performance groups based on the comparison of their observed test scores to a pre-selected criterion (e.g. masters vs. nonmasters in dichotomous classification scenarios). The successful use of exams for classification purposes assumes at least minimal levels of accuracy of these classifications. Classification accuracy is an index that reflects the rate of correct classification of individuals into the same category which contains their true ability score. Traditional methods estimate classification accuracy via methods which assume that true scores follow a four-parameter beta-binomial distribution. Recent research suggests that Item Response Theory may be a preferable alternative framework for estimating examinees' true scores and may return more accurate classifications based on these scores. Researchers hypothesized that test length, the location of the cut score, the distribution of items, and the distribution of examinee ability would impact the recovery of accurate estimates of classification accuracy. The current simulation study manipulated these factors to assess their potential influence on classification accuracy. Observed classification as masters vs. nonmasters, true classification accuracy, estimated classification accuracy, BIAS, and RMSE were analyzed. In addition, Analysis of Variance tests were conducted to determine whether an interrelationship existed between levels of the four manipulated factors. Results showed small values of estimated classification accuracy and increased BIAS in accuracy estimates with few items, mismatched distributions of item difficulty and examinee ability, and extreme cut scores. A significant four-way interaction between manipulated variables was observed. In additional to interpretations of these findings and explanation of potential causes for the recovered values, recommendations that inform practice and avenues of future research are provided.

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Date Created
2013

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Posterior predictive model checking in Bayesian networks

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This simulation study compared the utility of various discrepancy measures within a posterior predictive model checking (PPMC) framework for detecting different types of data-model misfit in multidimensional Bayesian network (BN) models. The investigated conditions were motivated by an applied research

This simulation study compared the utility of various discrepancy measures within a posterior predictive model checking (PPMC) framework for detecting different types of data-model misfit in multidimensional Bayesian network (BN) models. The investigated conditions were motivated by an applied research program utilizing an operational complex performance assessment within a digital-simulation educational context grounded in theories of cognition and learning. BN models were manipulated along two factors: latent variable dependency structure and number of latent classes. Distributions of posterior predicted p-values (PPP-values) served as the primary outcome measure and were summarized in graphical presentations, by median values across replications, and by proportions of replications in which the PPP-values were extreme. An effect size measure for PPMC was introduced as a supplemental numerical summary to the PPP-value. Consistent with previous PPMC research, all investigated fit functions tended to perform conservatively, but Standardized Generalized Dimensionality Discrepancy Measure (SGDDM), Yen's Q3, and Hierarchy Consistency Index (HCI) only mildly so. Adequate power to detect at least some types of misfit was demonstrated by SGDDM, Q3, HCI, Item Consistency Index (ICI), and to a lesser extent Deviance, while proportion correct (PC), a chi-square-type item-fit measure, Ranked Probability Score (RPS), and Good's Logarithmic Scale (GLS) were powerless across all investigated factors. Bivariate SGDDM and Q3 were found to provide powerful and detailed feedback for all investigated types of misfit.

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Date Created
2014