Three-level models for indirect effects in school- and class-randomized experiments in education

Keenan A. Pituch, Daniel L. Murphy, Richard L. Tate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Due to the clustered nature of field data, multi-level modeling has become commonly used to analyze data arising from educational field experiments. While recent methodological literature has focused on multi-level mediation analysis, relatively little attention has been devoted to mediation analysis when three levels (e.g., student, class, school) are present in a study setting. This article presents analysis models that can be used to test indirect effects in experimental designs having three levels where random assignment is at the third (school) or second (class) level and where the indirect effect may be random. In the presentation, simulated datasets are used to illustrate model specification and results interpretation for hypothetical three-level educational experiments involving mediation and moderation of treatment effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-95
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Experimental Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Experimental design
  • Indirect effect
  • Mediation
  • Moderation
  • Multi-level model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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