Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version



Published in Research in Higher Education 55:1 (February 2014), pp 101–122.


Copyright © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York. Used by permission.


Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) has become increasingly popular in the higher education literature, but there is significant variability in the current approaches to the conducting and reporting of HLM. The field currently lacks a general consensus around important issues such as the number of levels of analysis that are important to include and how much variance should be accounted for at each level in order for the HLM analysis to have practical significance (Dedrick et al., Rev Educ Res 79:69–102, 2009). The purpose of this research is to explore the use of a 3-level HLM model, appropriate contextualizing of results of HLM, and the interpretation of HLM results that resonates with practice. We used an example of a 3-level model from the National Study of Living Learning Programs to highlight the practical issues that arise in the interpretation of HLM within a higher education context.