Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

James H. McMillan

Second Advisor

Lisa Abrams

Third Advisor

Michael Broda

Fourth Advisor

Sybil Halloran


The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of acquiescence on both positively and negatively worded questions, both when unidimensionality was assumed and when it was not. To accomplish this, undergraduate student responses to a previously validated survey of student engagement were used to compare several models of acquiescence, using a priori goodness-offit statistics as evidence for model fit, in order to develop a model that adequately accounted for acquiescence bias. Using a true experimental design, undergraduate students from a variety of classes at a large, urban university were randomly assigned to one of three versions of the same survey of student engagement (all positively worded items, all negatively worded items, an equal balance of both positively and negatively worded items). Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the results. Although the presence of acquiescence was confirmed for both positively and negatively worded items, it was not consistent by content scale or item polarization. This suggests that there may be an interaction between item polarization and content that may cause acquiescence to be present or absent. The scales that did not show acquiescence on the balanced survey portrayed a split factor loading based upon item polarization. Further, the splitting of factor loadings by item polarization was not due to acquiescence, suggesting that something other than acquiescence is causing the loadings to split. Further research is needed to develop models and/or methods to better assess and control for acquiescence. Although demographic groups were compared by gender and race/ethnicity to assess if different groups acquiesced differently, using multi-group confirmatory factor analysis, many of the models did not converge. The findings of this study were limited by the nature of the sample size. Additional research is needed to determine if acquiescence differs by group membership.


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Date of Submission