Validating cognitive skill sequences in the early social development domain using path-referenced technology and latent trait models.
AuthorFeld, Jason Kane.
AdvisorBergan, John R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe present study was a systematic investigation of hierarchical skill sequences in the early social development domain. Recent research has suggested that social development may be conceptualized as a phenomena involving a hierarchical sequencing of competencies. In particular, social development may involve sequential changes in capability, reflecting successively higher levels of functioning within these competencies. The conceptual problem of this study focused on the construction and validation of a meaningful representation of ability in early social development. Ability was conceptualized as a composite of cognitive procedures governing the performance of specific tasks. The process for constructing skill sequences to reflect ability involved identifying task characteristics or demands which imposed various requirements on cognitive functioning. Hierarchical skill sequences were constructed to tap a variety of capabilities within the early social development domain. These skill sequences included understanding emotions, identifying and mediating needs, understanding friendships, and understanding fairness in decision making. Assessment items were developed to reflect each of these skill sequences based on the cognitive processes that are necessary for correct performance. This involved varying the task demands imposing various requirements on cognitive processing. The data were from 18,305 Head Start children ranging from 30 to 83 months of age. Latent trait models were constructed to reflect the hypothesized skill sequences by allowing the discrimination and difficulty parameters to be free to vary or by constraining them to be equal to other parameters. To arrive at a preferred model, each latent trait model was statistically compared against alternative latent trait models. In general, the results from the present investigation supported the hypothesis that the acquisition of social skills is a developmental phenomena involving a hierarchical sequencing of competencies. Moreover, the study supports the assumption that changes in capability can be defined by progress toward abstraction, complexity, stability, and the handling of increasing quantities of information. While the results provide a deeper understanding of early social development, future research is needed to extend the developmental structure to higher levels of ability. Moreover, research is needed to determine how the information gleaned from developmental assessment can be utilized in planning learning experiences to enhance development.
Degree ProgramEducational Foundations and Administration