A recent study published in the Social Sciences & Humanities Open journal provides guidance on how to manage differential alignment between outcome measures and education interventions. When conducting research in natural settings, researchers try to reduce bias by accounting for influence of study artifacts such as measurement errors or implementation problems. Not only artifacts, but other factors will also influence the magnitude of effects. One such factor is the content alignment between programs and outcomes measures. Use of researchers-developed measures usually associated with larger effect sizes if the researchers-developed measures are overaligned to the treatment.
Accounting for problem of program-outcome overalignment, and the resulting propensity for magnified effect sizes, the authors propose a process of quantifying differential alignment that differs from other researchers’ approach, as it does not rely on item-level of measures but rather extracts information based on program contents of treatment conditions and assessments. The differential alignment primarily quantifies the difference in test alignment between treatment group and control group.
After identifying some challenges to implement this approach, the authors suggest researchers detailing topic-specific alignment and overall differential alignment values. At minimum, by including alignment information and full versions of outcome measures in paper appendices, research synthesists will be better able to calculate overall differential alignment. Thus, it can be used to inform review standards, to enhance the meta-analytic moderator analyses, and perhaps to establish synthesis eligibility criteria. Indeed, better syntheses will lead to better decisions by practitioners and policymakers about the potential of a program or instructional approach.
Source (Open Access): Taylor, J. A., Polanin, J. R., Kowalski, S. M., Wilson, C. D., & Stuhlsatz, M. A. M. (2022). Addressing test fairness in education research: A process for quantifying the alignment between outcome measures and education interventions. Social Sciences & Humanities Open, 6(1), 100312. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssaho.2022.100312