Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Measurement and Research

Major Professor

Eun Sook Kim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tony Tan, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Stephen Stark, Ph.D.


class enumeration, covariate effect, latent classes, measurement invariance


Factor mixture modeling (FMM) has been increasingly used to investigate unobserved population heterogeneity. This Monte Carlo simulation study examined the issue of measurement invariance testing with FMM when there are covariate effects. Specifically, this study investigated the impact of excluding and misspecifying covariate effects on the class enumeration and measurement invariance testing with FMM. Data were generated based on three FMM models where the covariate had impact on the latent class membership only (population model 1), both the latent class membership and the factor (population model 2), and the latent class membership, the factor, and one item (population model 3). The number of latent classes was fixed at two. These two latent classes were distinguished by factor mean difference for conditions where measurement invariance held in the population, and by both factor mean difference and intercept differences across classes when measurement invariance did not hold in the population.

For each of the population models, different analysis models that excluded or misspecified covariate effects were fitted to data. Analyses consisted of two parts. First, for each analysis model, class enumeration rates were examined by comparing the fit of seven solutions: 1-class, 2-class configural, metric, and scalar, and 3-class configural, metric, and scalar. Second, assuming the correct solution was selected, the fit of analysis models with the same solution was compared to identify a best-fitting model. Results showed that completely excluding the covariate from the model (i.e., the unconditional model) would lead to under-extraction of latent classes, except when the class separation was large. Therefore, it is recommended to include covariate in FMM when the focus is to identify the number of latent classes and the level of invariance. Specifically, the covariate effect on the latent class membership can be included if there is no priori hypothesis regarding whether measurement invariance might hold or not. Then fit of this model can be compared with other models that included covariate effects in different ways but with the same number of latent classes and the same level of invariance to identify a best-fitting model.