A Comparison of CFA and ESEM Approaches Using TIMSS Science Attitudes Items: Evidence from Factor Structure and Measurement Invariance
The power of positive attitudes toward science is that they influence science achievement by reinforcing higher performance. Interestingly, there continue to be gender disparities in attitudes toward science across many countries. Males generally have more positive attitudes toward science than females. Although most research related to attitudes toward science have been based on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) Student Questionnaire, there remains a dearth of evidence validating the TIMSS science attitudes items and measurement equivalence across genders.
The goals of this research were as follows: (1) to build support for the structural validity of the TIMSS items, and (2) to investigate whether the instrument measures the same latent construct (attitudes toward science) across genders. The present study followed two steps of statistical analyses. As a first step, two modeling methods (confirmatory factor analysis and exploratory structural equation modeling) were conducted to identify the best-fitting model for the instrument. Second, after determining the model of choice, we tested several nested invariance models progressively.
This study found (1) the latent factor structure of the TIMSS items and (2) strong measurement invariance across genders. This result indicated that the instrument is well designed by the a priorispecification and measures the same latent variable for both female and male students. This study provides support for the multidimensional approach to measuring science attitudes and shows the flexibility of ESEM over CFA by demonstrating that the ESEM approach provided better representation of the underlying factor structure.