Multilevel models in ecological analysis : the case of research in education
Multilevel analyses are a recent development of mathematical modelling adapted to the problem of ecological analysis in social sciences, in other words capable of producing the effects of surroundings on individuals’ behaviour. The analyses originate from the need to give a reply to the question concerning the choice of the unit for analysis, each time data is in hierarchical form. One of the ideal fields for multilevel analysis is in the educational sector, where students’ learning takes place in particular class and on particular premises. Showing progress from and econometric point of view, multilevel techniques offer an advantage concerning specification, as it is possible to model simultaneously the dimensions for efficiency and for equity in educational means. This article is particularly concerned with a comparison between the classical treatment and the multilevel treatment of the problem of ecological analysis, from both a theoretical and an empirical results point of view. It appears that there exists a wide field of application for multilevel analysis in educational evaluation, and more generally, in social science research.