1.1Overview and Background
As of this writing, a good online course for structural equation modeling (SEM) does not exist. None of the popular MOOC platforms out there provide any sufficient coverage of SEM. Until now, students of SEM have had to rely on software user manuals and graduate courses to learn SEM. The problem is, SEM analysis is a procedural skill that really should be taught visually. The 200+ YouTube videos I've created have helped to partially bridge this gap in pedagogy. I'm hoping this online course will finally fill this major gap.
This course is intended to be comprehensive in some ways (i.e., it covers everything you need to know to go from zero to complete SEM analysis of your data), but it is intentionally incomplete in other ways (e.g., there are so many software packages I won't cover, and so many different topics and types of analyses that are beyond the scope of this course).
This course is intended to help a novice "SEMer" (pronounced "ess-ee-em-ur") learn everything he or she needs to know to conduct his or her own analyses independently and confidently. Not only will I explain the most critical topics, I will also provide the procedural knowledge (where to click and what to type) necessary so you can become a skillful SEMer.
This course is not just a combination of my YouTube channel and StatWiki. It goes deeper and is more precise and carefully curated. Beyond this, in this course, I provide exercises and assessments so that you can test both your conceptual and procedural knowledge. Once finished, you can also receive a certificate of completion, which I hope will count for some sort of course credit at your institution (however, make sure to get this approved by the powers-that-be at your institution before relying on it counting for credit).
If you are taking this course for course credit, I strongly suggest you complete this course under the direction of a faculty mentor. Having regular meetings with your faculty mentor will ensure you are accountable and keep a good pace. Reporting to a faculty mentor will also help solidify what you've learned.
As a technicality, this course is actually considered a "textbook." While most textbooks go through many editions throughout their lifespan, and any subsequent edition needs to be purchased independently from the original edition you purchased, this is not the case with this course/book. By purchasing access to this course/book, you will have perpetual access to subsequent editions. I will edit this course/book from time to time, including adding content. You will have free access to these edits. The textbook classification is necessary for various reasons, but also provides the opportunity for it to be cited. If you would like to cite anything in this book, this is how you would do it:
Gaskin, J. E. (2020). Structural Equation Modeling. MyEducator.