An Exploratory Analysis of the Ecological Validity of a Performance-Based Assessment of Attention
Author(s)Lee, Eun- Yeop
school age children
Arts and Humanities
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AbstractExecutive functions impact everyday functioning. An individual’s ability to adapt to and navigate their physical and social environments is largely determined by the ability to organize oneself, to plan and to coordinate activities. Despite the wide variety of cognitive tests that assess various aspects of executive function, there has been little work to validate the use of these measures in predicting real world functioning (Sbordone, Seyranian, & Ruff, 2000), particularly in children where characterization of executive function is less specified. Evaluating the ecological validity of neuropsychological tests has become an increasingly important topic over the past decade (Chaytor & Schmitter- Edgecombe, 2003). Ecologically valid assessments of executive function and attentional deficits provide insight into deficits related to the child’s everyday adaptive functioning, which can assist in identifying targets for interventions. Although many performance based measures and caregiver behavior checklists exist for assessing a wide range of behaviors and adaptive functioning skills in children, comprehensive measures of executive functions are relatively new and largely unexplored. The purpose of this study was to investigate and to define better the relationship between attention and corresponding behaviors that represent executive functions and social/adaptive functioning. More specifically, this study sought to explore the correlation between ratings of varying subcomponents of attention (e.g., selective attention, sustained attention, and attentional control/switching), executive function behaviors, and ratings of social/adaptive functioning. Additionally, gender considerations were examined with aims to determine how this factor may affect the degree of relationship between the proposed variables. Results of multiple regression and correlational analyses revealed the ability of child attentional performance to predict executive function and social/adaptive functioning behaviors. As parent/caregiver and teacher ratings of executive function behaviors increased thus noting adept skills in these areas of functioning child performance on measures of selective attention, sustained attention, and attentional control/shifting were also reported to improve. Future research should continue to explore the construct validity, positive predictive power, negative predictive power, diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of the Test of Everyday Attention for Children (TEA-Ch).