Doctor of Philosophy
Saklofske, Donald H
The identification process of learning challenges in children is diverse and multifaceted, but typically involves standardized assessment with a psychologist. And while cognitive ability assessment is an integral and informative part of the process, one major concern is that the integration of teacher and parent observations into Canadian psychoeducational evaluation process has, thus far, not been a key source of information guiding diagnosis and intervention. Another concern is that formalized assessments often have long wait times, which delays support to the child. Therefore, evidence-based measures are needed to integrate teacher and parent observations and streamline the assessment process. The purpose of this research program was to identify specific, observable behaviours that conceptually aligned with primary five-factors of the Wechsler Intelligence Test for Children (WISC-V), the standardized measure used for assessment, to develop home and classroom behavioural screening measures that can be used collectively. Development of the measures involved both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Focus groups, panel reviews, and item rating surveys with expert groups (e.g., school psychologists, teachers, parents) allowed items to be generated, appraised, and modified to develop the pilot measures. The final study collected WISC-V and screener data to assess conceptual alignment between measures, as well as included a qualitative examination of parent experiences supporting complex learners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on feedback data, the pilot Home and Classroom Cognitive Ability Screeners were developed; both include five composites reflecting the WISC-V factor structure. Preliminary evaluation demonstrates a relation between observed scores on the screeners and corresponding WISC-V scales, and qualitative data showed a significant number of unique challenges experienced by parents supporting children with learning differences. Given the daily demands of psychologists and teachers to support diverse and complex learning needs, it is imperative that research focuses on improving current practices and enabling increased collaboration. These new measures serve to inform psychologists about the child’s cognitive functions as they are expressed day-to-day in the home and classroom. This helps to facilitate a more effective assessment process and creates the opportunity for a common language for diagnosis, support, and progress monitoring to promote the child’s academic success and well-being.
Summary for Lay Audience
A vital part of helping children who are experiencing academic difficulties is to ensure that there is accurate identification of learning and behavioural challenges. This is usually done using a standardized assessment administered by a psychologist. However, another significant component to ensuring the child is supported according to their needs is to gather information from other sources. Teachers and parents, who spend time with the child every day, are among the most valuable sources of relevant information about how the child functions across various situations. For this reason, we sought to create home and classroom measures that would align the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V), one of the most used standardized assessments in psychoeducational evaluation. The purpose of this research project was to identify every day, observable behaviours that would link to the abilities measured on the WISC-V, to develop home and classroom screening measures. To create these new complementary measures, we consulted school psychologists, teachers, and parents though focus groups, review panels, and online surveys to develop and review items. The final part of the study collected WISC-V and screener data to compare results, as well as conducted interviews with parents of children with learning differences to understand their experiences with remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on this, the Classroom and Home Cognitive Ability Screeners were developed, which asks teachers and parents, respectively, to reflect on the child’s behaviour and skills in the home and classroom. Early data suggests that the screening measures effectively capture behaviours aligned with the five factors of the WISC-V. Interview data revealed common themes of unique challenges experienced by parents with children with learning differences. Given the demand of school psychologists and teachers to support diverse learning needs, it is important that research focuses on improving assessment processes and promoting collaboration. These screening tools provide important information about the child’s daily functioning. This helps to build a more effective process and creates the opportunity for more meaningful dialogue between psychologists, teachers, and parents to support and monitor the child’s academic success and overall well-being.
Babcock, Sarah E., "Bridging the Gap: Building More Collaborative Psychoeducational Assessment Practices" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8224.