Germany, Cologne

Introduction to Structural Equation Modeling: Confirmatory Factor Analysis with Mplus

when 7 August 2017 - 11 August 2017
language English
duration 1 week
credits 4 ECTS
fee EUR 250

The course focuses on measurement models and their application within the Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) framework. We will show how a theoretical model, represented through measurement models, can be applied to empirical data and how to assess its fit to the data. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) is an important and basic aspect of the SEM-framework and its understanding and application to data is the core learning aspect of this course and as such an excellent preparation for the course “Structural Equation Modeling with Panel Data” in the subsequent week (week 2, 14-18 August). Also, CFA is a necessary conceptual precondition to understand and apply the structural aspect of SEM, path modeling. Therefore, the course deals with concepts and applications of CFA such as assessing construct validity and reliability of a measurement model as well as the interpretation of calculated results. The topics addressed in the course include different modeling techniques of CFA such as single measurement models, simultaneous CFA (SCFA), the Multiple Group Comparison of the CFA (MGCFA), and the higher-order CFA. If time permits, we will also address CFA with categorical data and how to handle missing data. Throughout the course we will work on examples provided by the lecturers using the popular SEM software package Mplus. For data preparation we will use mainly SPSS, but we will also be able to accommodate needs of Stata-users.

Course leader

Prof. Dr. Jost Reinecke is professor of quantitative methods of empirical social research at the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Bielefeld, Germany;
Georg Kessler teaches methodology of the social sciences at the University of Würzburg.

Target group

Participants will find the course useful if they:
- work with models that involve a complex structure of variables involving latent concepts and their relationships to each other;
- have a strong deductive framework and want to verify theoretical assumptions derived from substantive theories;
- need information on measurement quality (validity and reliability testing)
- want to get an introduction into Structural Equation Model (SEM)-framework;
- have had prior experience with SEM, but no formal training;
- they have had prior training, but still find the whole matter rather complicated;
- they want to further their understanding of Mplus
- wish to attend the courses “Structural Equation Modeling with Panel Data” or “Assessing Measurement Quality” in the subsequent week.
While this course is introductory in nature, its theoretical input should be dense enough to help more advanced users to effectively brush up their knowledge.

Course aim

By the end of the course participants will:
- they want to further their understanding of Mplus
- know how to apply CFA in the context of a research question;
- comprehend the mathematical and statistical foundation of SEM;
- be able to read, understand, and interpret an Mplus output;
- transfer the theoretical knowledge to applied research projects;
- in general be enabled to acquire the set of skills they need for their individual projects;
- be prepared to follow the courses “Structural Equation Modeling with Panel Data” or “Assessing Measurement Quality” in the subsequent week.

- transfer the theoretical knowledge to applied research projects,
- Participants need to be familiar with and have a conceptual/mathematical understanding of variance, covariance, correlation, standardization, hypothesis testing (t-test, chi-square), and regression analysis [for compact refreshing we recommend],
- basic knowledge of matrix notation [a short refresher can be found on],
- basic knowledge of solving a linear equation system,
- familiarity with writing syntax (Mplus input - as taught in the class - is syntax only) [we recommend to look into chapter 5 of]
- handling of system files (.sps; .dta; …) and transformation to portable or ASCII-data files (.dat; .csv; .txt; …) [for SPSS users: a good preparation is to import .txt-files into SPSS and use SPSS-syntax to get data; for Stata users: a good preparation is to use the stata2mplus ado in Stata to get Mplus input and data file simultaneously],
- as introductory reading we also recommend to study the chapters 1 to 3 of the Brown book,
- basic familiarity with Mplus (can be acquired in the short course “Introduction to Data Analysis Using Mplus” in week 0).

Credits info

- Certificate of attendance issued upon completion.
Optional bookings:
- 2 ECTS points via the University of Mannheim for regular attendance and satisfactory work on daily assignments (EUR 20).
- 4 ECTS points via the University of Mannheim for regular attendance and satisfactory work on daily assignments and for submitting a paper/report of about 5000 words to the lecturer(s) up to 4 weeks after the end of the summer school (EUR 50).

Fee info

EUR 250: Student/PhD student rate.
EUR 350: Academic/non-profit rate.
The rates include the tuition fee, course materials, the academic program, access to library and IT facilities, coffee/tea, and a number of social activities.


10 DAAD scholarships are available via the Center for Doctoral Studies in Social and Behavioral Sciences (CDSS) at the University of Mannheim.
5 ESRA scholarships are available for participation in one main course.