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Model uncertainty

Importance in education research

Model uncertainty is a measure of how well a model fits a dataset and is often expressed in terms such as standard errors. Researchers use these measures to inform how confident they are in the results from a model. In DBER, the most common method for expressing confidence is through the use of p-values as go/no-go tests that determine if an effect exists. The American Statistics Association has recommended against this misuse of p-values for understanding model uncertainty as it can lead to false claims (Wasserstein & Lazar, 2016; Wasserstein et al., 2019).

Equity issue

When investigating issues of equity for URM students, it can be difficult to collect datasets with sufficient power to prevent the inaccurate dismissal of inequities due to having p-values greater than 0.05 (a false negative error). Other methods for conveying model uncertainty, such as confidence intervals, allows for the more nuanced reporting of estimated inequities alongside the range of potential values.


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