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Computerized social-emotional assessment measures for early childhood settings

Social-emotional competence (SEC) is increasingly acknowledged by parents, educators, and lawmakers as central to school success. Given the tremendous SEC gains made by preschoolers, early childhood educators need access to sensitive assessment tools that enable them to monitor and tailor instruction to individual children’s needs. Computerized direct assessment tools have several advantages to meet these needs, including inherent interest to children and ease of use for teachers. Thus, we evaluated the psychometric adequacy of computerized assessment tools measuring two key aspects of preschoolers’ SEC: emotion knowledge and social problem solving. Participants included 450 preschoolers from three regions. We used two versions each of two measures widely used in research: The Affect Knowledge Test, Shortened (AKT-S) and Challenging Situations Task (CST). Both were administered via in-person and computerized modes, in counterbalanced orders. For each computerized administration, observers rated children’s computer competence and interest in the assessment process. Analyses examined internal consistency reliability of the computerized measures. Interrelations and mean differences between computerized and in-person modes for each measure were used to demonstrate concurrent validity of the computerized measures. Because of the importance of SEC for early school success, associations of the computerized measures with aggregate teacher ratings of social-emotional behavior and learning behaviors/attitudes were used as indicators of predictive validity. Findings showed that the computerized AKT-S and CST appear reliable. Further, for concurrent validity, both are related to, and do not differ from, the in-person mode. Predictive validity relations were stronger for the AKT-S than the CST, therefore validity of the CST should be probed further. Discussion centers on advantages of using these computerized measures, and how teachers could be supported to use them. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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