Preliminary construct validation of the brief Multidimensional students' life satisfaction scale amongst a sample of children in the Western Cape, South Africa: Multigroup analyses across three age groups
The interest in researching children's well-being has increased substantially over the past few decades. The increasing body of knowledge within children's well-being has become known as the Child Indicator Movement. Further advancements in legislation catalysed an epistemological shift in the conceptualisation of children and childhood, encapsulated within the 'New Sociology of Childhood'. These advancements also shifted the unit of analysis, with children transitioning from being absent in research, to being objects of research, to being subjects of research. This served to ignite the interest in researching children's 'subjective' positions, typically known as their subjective well-being. Using data from Wave 2 of the Children's Worlds: International Survey of Children's Well-Being, the aim of the current study was to conduct a structural validation of a measure of children's subjective well-being (the Brief Multidimensional Students' Life Satisfaction Scale) amongst a sample of children from the Western Cape Province, South Africa. The study also sought to test the convergent validity of the Brief Multidimensional Students' Life Satisfaction Scale by regressing it onto the single-item Overall Life Satisfaction scale. Data were collected using a stratified random sample of children aged 8, 10, and 12-years old (N = 3 284) selected from 29 schools across the Western Cape Province (South Africa) from both urban and rural geographical districts. Data were analysed using Confirmatory Factor Analysis. The study found the Brief Multidimensional Students' Life Satisfaction Scale to be an appropriate measure for use in the South African context, specifically within the Western Cape Province of South Africa, across the 8, 10, and 12-year old age groups. The study further found scalar invariance to be tenable across the 10 and 12-year old age groups, which indicates that the two age groups are comparable across correlations, regressions, and means. This infers that meaningful comparisons can be made across the two age groups, and that children understand the items in a similar manner. Finally, adequate loadings of the latent construct (the Brief Multidimensional Students' Life Satisfaction Scale) onto the Overall Life Satisfaction scale were found, confirming evidence of convergent validity.