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Testing Children: A Practitioner's Guide to Assessment of Mental Development in Infants and Young Children

AutorPhyllis Preston
VerlagHogrefe Publishing
Seitenanzahl144 Seiten
Preis26,99 EUR
This book aims to help the practitioner derive maximum benefit from the use of individual norm-based tests of mental development. It includes, but also goes beyond, an explanation of the psychometric expertise required to use such tests. Beginning with an exploration of the nature of mental development itself, the author explains how the very presence of the assessor impacts on the assessment process both in terms of perceptual idiosyncrasies and in terms of the effectiveness with which the interpersonal dynamics between child, carer and assessor are managed. This is a holistic guide to skilled observation, accurate interpretation, and effective reporting, which equips the reader to derive accurate conclusions in the best interests of the particular needs of the child under assessment.

The Author

Phyllis Preston – AFBPsS, C. Psychol (Clinical/Educational) – read Psychology at University College London with Cyril Burt then gained her postgraduate clinical training at the Maudsley Hospital, London Institute of Psychiatry with Hans Eysenck and Monte Shapiro. She has enjoyed a long career in applied psychology within a wide variety of settings: University Departments, National Health Service hospitals, Local Education Authority Psychological Services, schools and social services provisions. This has enabled her to sample most conditions of physical handicap, mental disorders, social deprivation, and of their consequent problems, and learn the therapies available to help relieve them. Her experience has led her to view the mental field as a reactive determinant of malfunction in children (and adults), such as observed in learning, affective, and behaviour disorders often compounded by the deficits/ deprivations of social inequality.

Her special interest in the very young was established early and still holds; she continues to teach the skill of assessing mental development to professionals working in the applied fields of psychology and paediatrics.  

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Horizontale Tabs

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Introduction
  3. 1 The Challenge of Evaluation
  4. 2 The Concept of Mind
  5. 3 The Psychological Route
  6. 4 About Numerical Values of Mental Ability
  7. 5 About Individual Tests of Mental Development
  8. 6 Common Errors During the Assessment Interview
  9. 7 The Task of Observation
  10. 8 How Skilled Observation Assists Evaluation
  11. 9 Facilitators and Promoters in the Developmental Process
  12. 10 Communicating Findings: How to Write a Report
  13. 11 Some Memorable Moments During Assessments
  14. Epilogue Beyond the Finishing Line: A Wide Angle Glance
  15. Appendices and References
4 About Numerical Values of Mental Ability (p. 29-30)

The Meaning of Numbers

Scores on tests are numerical values. The first important thing to understand about test scores is that, whatever the particular test of mental development used, the resultant numerical value represents a relative position. It does not indicate a dimension of absolute size. Psychological measurement differs in this sense from physical measurement. Consider these examples:

a) Physical Measurement (Arithmetical Ratio Scales)

If a table is measured as being five metres long and another table is measured as being ten metres long, then we can say that one table is twice the size of the other.

b) Psychological Measurement (Arithmetical Interval Scales)

If a child gets a test score of five and another child gets a test score of ten, we cannot say that one child has twice the ability of the other. The key difference between physical and psychological measuring scales is that the latter do not start from a zero value. The starting point for psychological measuring scales is some sort of expected standard against which an individual is measured. The most common standard for assessing mental development in children is the typical level of performance in "most" children of a certain age. The psychological starting, or zero point, is set at this "most" value. Thus, if we expect most children to get a score of between ten and twelve, the scores obtained by individual children will be compared to this expected standard. If a child scores eight, then clearly that child is below the expected standard, but how far below? What is the significance of two or three or four points below the expected standard? In order to answer these questions, it is necessary to understand more about the nature of psychological measurement.

Norm-Referenced Testing

The numerical value derived from a psychological test simply tells us how a specific child stands in relation to a peer group; how close the child’s score is to the majority that occupy a central position (the average) in the group, or how far away it is from the level at which the majority score. In other words, the numerical value is a measure of how much the score deviates from the achieved average range of the sampled group. The sampled group are referred to as the norm group. The norm group is the standard or benchmark against which we compare the performance of an individual child. The choice of norm group is therefore crucial. The norm group must be selected to be representative of whatever category of children we wish to compare the individual child against. For example, if we wish to compare the individual against all children in the UK, then our norm group must include the same range of variables that categorise all children in the UK in a similar percentage to that which exists in the total population. Variables might include age of child, education level of parent, ethnic group and many others. Understanding how the norm group performs on a test is a key part of the development of the test as well as key to subsequent interpretations of the test in practice.
Table of Contents8
1 The Challenge of Evaluation16
Making Sense of Information16
A Brief History of Mental Measurement17
What Test Scores Do not Measure19
Points for Reflection21
2 The Concept of Mind22
An Evolutionary View22
The Mental Legacy23
Soul, Mind and Thought23
Body and Mind24
3 The Psychological Route26
Issues in Communication26
Two Different Faces of Psychology27
Gateways to the Mental Domain28
Underlying Processes in the Mental Domain33
The Structure of Thinking (see also Appendix 1)34
4 About Numerical Values of Mental Ability40
The Meaning of Numbers40
Norm-Referenced Testing41
What Do We Need to Know?42
The Concept of Mental Age44
Understanding the Nature of Psychometric Tests44
More About the Process of Test Development47
IQ in Relation to the Normal Distribution Curve49
Some important points to bear in mind50
Why the Need for Precision?51
5 About Individual Tests of Mental Development54
Test Content54
Section Three: Issues in Application62
6 Common Errors During the Assessment Interview64
The Assessment Setting65
The Social Skills of Engagement66
Parental Preparation68
Test Administration69
The Care of Test Materials76
Some Practical Suggestions for Maintaining the Flow of the Test Session77
7 The Task of Observation80
Issues in Observation80
How to Improve Observation Skills82
8 How Skilled Observation Assists Evaluation84
The Area of Vision (see also Appendix 6 and 8)86
The Area of Touch (see Appendix 7 on the hands)88
9 Facilitators and Promoters in the Developmental Process90
The Child with Emergent Skills90
The Child as a Whole96
The Quality of Parenting98
10 Communicating Findings: How to Write a Report100
The Contents of the Report101
11 Some Memorable Moments During Assessments106
Motherly Love106
Shaken and Stirred107
Finally Satisfied108
Epilogue Beyond the Finishing Line: A Wide Angle Glance110
Appendices and References116
Appendix 1: How We Make Sense of Information Received: A Possible Model for the Structure of Thinking118
Appendix 2: Nature and Function of Measurement121
Appendix 3: The Gaussian Curve and Equivalent Values126
Appendix 4: Table of IQ Ranges and their SD Points and Descriptive Levels127
Appendix 5: Notes on Play128
Appendix 6: Language Development130
Appendix 7: The Hand (Notes derived from the book “Touching for Knowing” by Hatwell, Streri, & Gentaz, 2003)134
Appendix 8: Facial Expressions140

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