School Psychologists and Assessment of Attention and Memory: What Influences Practices When Epilepsy Is Present?
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractChildren with epilepsy risk numerous problems at school, including those related to attention and memory. Crucially, attention and memory are central to academic success. Consequently, it can be argued that school psychologists should conduct comprehensive evaluations that intentionally measure attention and memory when assessing children with epilepsy. The sparse existing research, however, suggests that school psychologists often leave these important domains unassessed. Even less known is why attention and memory might be left unassessed, although school psychologists' limited awareness of epilepsy's threat to specific cognitive processes and/or doubt that attention and memory tests are indeed feasible to use in school settings are candidate explanations. This study concerns school psychologists and their assessment practices for students with epilepsy. It investigates whether unawareness of epilepsy's risk to attention and memory and/or doubt about the feasibility of school-based attention and memory tests may be partial explanations of their restrictive practices. Each of 237 participating school psychologists read about a hypothetical student with epilepsy and was randomly assigned to one of four conditions: neutral information (control); information about the feasibility of attention and memory tests (Feasibility information only); information about risk for attention and memory problems in children with epilepsy (Risk information only); or information about both feasibility and risk (Risk + Feasibility information). Participants were then provided with a list of standardized assessments (i.e., cognitive, academic, social-emotional, attention, and memory) and other (non-psychometric) techniques and practices (i.e., formal behavioral observation, pediatrician contact, interviews) for potential use. Subsequently, participants rated their attitudes (perceived value and likelihood of use) and ranked the importance of each assessment/practice regarding the hypothetical student with epilepsy. There were four predictions: 1) school psychologists in the control condition will endorse the least favorable attitudes and importance rankings of attention and memory tests; 2) school psychologists' provided with information about either Risk or Feasibility will have higher attitude ratings and importance rankings of these tests than those in the control condition; 3) those provided with both Risk and Feasibility information will have the highest attitude ratings and highest importance rankings of attention and memory tests. Findings suggest that Risk information alone was associated with higher attitude ratings and importance rankings of attention and memory tests, and that Feasibility information had no effect on school psychologists' attitude ratings or importance ranking of these assessment tools. Study limitations, implications for practice, and future directions for research are discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College