School Psychology Review

Behavioral Assessment
Volume 9, Issue 1 (1980 )

Editor: Harold R. Keller


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  • Editorial

    Harold R. Keller

    pp. 3-4

    Behavioral assessment has received increasing amounts of attention in recent years.Numerous articles, books, journals, and handbooks have appeared recently (e.g., see book reviews). A number of conditions have brought about this increased interest.

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  • Pre-Intervention Assessment of Behavior Disordered Children: Where Does the School Psychologist Stand?

    Barbara A. Mowder

    pp. 5-13

    ABSTRACT: Assessment of behavior disorders and emotional disturbance is a difficult task; a generally recognized classification system does not exist, definitions of emotional disturbance are far from clear, incidence figures vary, and a plethora of hypotheses have been forwarded to explain its existence. This paper reviews the major issues involved in pre-intervention assessment of children with this handicapping condition and makes recommendations for school psychologists in the psycho-educational evaluation of behavior disordered and emotionally disturbed children.

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  • The Assessment of Social Skills: An Overview

    Robert P. Sprafkin

    pp. 14-20

    The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of behavioral assessment of youngsters’ social skills within educational settings. Often these attempts at assessment are then linked to programs of remediation or training. Thus, what is involved is not just assessment, but procedures for identifying youngsters in need of social skill training, and assignment of such youngsters to groups or activities which will facilitate such skill training. The goal is generally to arrive at a skill training prescription which is tailored to the individual skill assets and deficits of each youngster.

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  • Issues in the Use of Observational Assessment

    Harold R. Keller

    pp. 21-30

    The use of observation in behavioral assessment has been critically reviewed extensively(e.g., Haynes, 1978; Johnson & Bolstad, 1973; Jones, Reid, & Patterson, 1975; Kent & Foster,1977; Lipinski & Nelson, 1974; Wildman & Erickson, 1977). Other reviewers have examined specific observational approaches pertinent to behavioral assessment, such as analogue measures(Haynes, 1978; McFall, 1977; Nay, 1977), self-monitoring (Ciminero, Nelson, & Lipinski,1977; Haynes, 1978; Mahoney, 1977; Nelson, 1977b), ecological observation (Carlson, Scott, & Eklund, this issue), and phenomenological observation (Bogdan & Taylor, 1975; Wilson, 1977).Keller (1980) critically discusses the role of observation within behavioral consultation, and Alessi (this issue) provides excellent practical suggestions for conducting behavioral observations in the schools.

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  • Behavioral Observation for the School Psychologist: Responsive-Discrepancy Model

    Galen James Alessi

    pp. 31-45

    ABSTRACT: Few school psychologists perform behavioral observation in the classroom. Many do not knowhow to perform such observations. Others have been frustrated in these attempts. Many of the problems encountered revolve around several issues: How are the data interpreted once obtained? How do you select and define behaviors for observation? How can various behaviors be measured? How is validity strengthened? How are the results presented to teachers? How can one get started?. Suggested solutions for these issues are presented. Examples are presented of protocols used for recording behavior observations.

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  • Assessment Alternatives: Non-Standardized Procedures

    Corinne Roth Smith

    pp. 46-57

    Presented in symposium, Broader dimensions of assessment: Uses in committees on the handicapped.Meetings of the National Association of School Psychologists, San Diego, March 1979. INTRODUCTION: Standardized testing has come under frequent criticism for: its comparison of individuals to norms, its sampling of underlying theoretical processes that have questionable validity, its use within the ability training controversy (Hammill & Larsen, 1974; Mann & Phillips, 1967; Sedlak & Weener, 1973; Ysseldyke & Sabatino, 1973), its reporting of unreliable intra- and inter-individual differences (Ysseldyke, 1973; Tarnapol, 1969), and its child-deficit orientation(Keough, 1972; Tarnapol, 1969). Most importantly, standardized measures seldom indicate exactly what or how a child should be taught.

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  • Behavioral Assessment: Questionnaires

    C. Chrisman Wilson

    pp. 58-66

    BEHAVIORAL ASSESSMENT: QUESTIONNAIRES: Along with the increased emphasis in recent years on a behavioral construct system which stresses direct observation of behavior, a number of questionnaires with potential utility for behavioral assessment in schools and school related settings have been developed and employed.Among the behaviors targeted for questionnaire assessment in schools and related settings have been children’s adaptive behavior, aggressive and noncompliant tendencies, anxiety, social interactions, hyperactivity, and a variety of teacher and peer behaviors. Within a behavioral construct system, direct observation of behavior is desirable; however, this may not always be possible or appropriate. When children are not part of an observable social system (Haynes,1978) or when the presence of outside observers might have an unnecessarily disruptive influence on children’s behaviors (as might be the case for the presence of observers in the classroom),questionnaire instruments may become the primary source of behavioral data (Haynes & Wilson, in press).

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  • Adaptive Behavior and Professional Disfavor: Controversies and Trends for School Psychologists

    W. Alan Coulter

    pp. 67-74

    “The most general formula we can adopt is this: An individual is normal if he is able to conduct his affairs of life without having need of supervision of others, if he is able to do work sufficiently remunerative to supply his own personal needs and finally if his intelligence does not unfit him for the social environment of his parents” (Binet, 1905 quoted in Goddard, 1916).This historic statement of Binet’s intention towards assessment has often been obscured in the contemporary debate surrounding adaptive behavior. Indeed, several have contended that the inclusion of adaptive behavior in the routine assessment process represents an affirmation of Binet’s attempt to assess a person comprehensively (Leland, 1978: Mercer, 1978).

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  • Ecological Theory and Method for Behavioral Assessment

    Cindy I. Carlson, Myrtle Scott, Susan J. Eklund

    pp. 75-82

    ABSTRACT: In order to increase the ecological validity of their behavioral assessments and interventions,school psychologists need to acquire both a broad diagnostic perspective and scientifically sound procedures which will focus on the critical interaction of individual behavior with its surrounding environment. The theoretical perspective and naturalistic methods of ecological psychology developed by Roger Barker examine the behavioral/environment interface. Ecological theory and procedures are described; their applicability to the behavioral assessment of children by school psychologists is discussed. An ecological assessment of behavior implies examining (1) the individual’s naturally occurring behavior, (2) the environment immediately surrounding the behavior, and (3) the individual-environment link. Methods discussed as applicable to an ecological behavior assessment are the specimen record, chronology,and behavior setting survey.

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  • Organizational Assessment

    Jane Close Conoley

    pp. 83-89

    INTRODUCTION: The idea of the school psychologist being involved in organizational assessment activities is certainly not a new one (Gallessich, 1973). Its widespread systematic application in schools seems, however, not to have occurred. Many factors have probably slowed the enthusiastic adoption of the idea by the practicing school psychologist. These may include: 1. the very real press to accomplish a large number of individual cognitive assessments,especially since the passage of P.L. 94-142, leaving little time or energy for other pursuits; 2. the general lack of specific training in social psychology and organization development in school psychology graduate programs; 3. a belief that our talents as psychologists are best employed with individual people rather than amorphous systems; 4. a general feeling of being victimized by systems (parents, governments, administrators)and no information about systemic intervention strategies and no conviction that the activities of one psychologist or a few psychologists can have any impact on the massive problems facing us today in the public schools.

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  • Professional Pulse

    Thomas K. Fagan

    pp. 90-92

    The U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, has published a text entitled,The social and economic status of the Black population in the United States: an historical view,1790-1978. One of nine reports on Black Americans, this study “focuses on changes which have occurred in the population distribution, income levels, labor force, employment, education,family composition, morality, fertility, housing, voting, public office holding, Armed Forces personnel, and other major aspects of life.” The report is available at a cost of $4.50 from the U.S.Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. Document No. 003-024-01659-l.

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  • Book Reviews

    pp. 93-98

    The stated purpose of the text is to provide a “how to do it” manual for students,researchers, and clinicians. Given the variable needs of each of these groups, such an undertaking is indeed an energetic one and few texts can provide so much in a single volume. The strength of this volume is that its detail should be particularly useful to students and researchers of behavioral assessment. Methods for reliable recording are offered, a host of measurement scales with discussions of validity and reliability are presented and various methods of behavioral observation are suggested. More specific suggestions for application in applied settings are most often left to the creativity of the reader. Since the text attempts to deal with so much, many of the chapters appear to deal with issues superficially. For example, the chapter on interviewing refers to a variety of systems for collecting data, but to make use of any of those systems the reader would have to refer to the original source. Each chapter is comprehensively referenced allowing the reader to refer to a variety of other sources.

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  • An Intervention in a "Special" Class

    Lisa Ford, Sylvia Rosenfield

    pp. 99-103

    When a referral is made for a particular child, it is often the case that a direct service model is not the most productive orientation. In the referral to be described here, a teacher had requested help for several of the pupils in a small class of eight children who had been grouped together because they had special needs. In this group, each child had specific learning and/or behavioral problems, but the choice was made by the school psychologist to assist the teacher rather than to focus on the individual children as referrals. This decision was made partly because the school psychologist’s time was limited, but more importantly because of an orientation that the most efficient strategy would be to enable the teacher to work with the whole class in the most effective way possible. Much of what was accomplished with this competent teacher could serve as a model for working with teachers of mainstreamed children and/or special education teachers.

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  • A Case Study in Behavioral Consultation: Organizational Factors

    Jan Hughes

    pp. 103-107

    Few school psychologists deny the applicability of behavioral principles in modifying children’s classroom behaviors. The school psychologist practicing behavioral consultation teaches school personnel how to apply learning theory principles to children’s problem behaviors.Behavioral consultation assumes that the psychologist, by decreasing his or her direct contact with children and by improving teachers’ skills, maximizes his or her effectiveness in meeting the mental health needs of children (Grieger, 1972; Tharp & Wetzel, 1969; Tomlinson,1972). Although there are different forms of behavioral consultation, generally behavioral consultation shares certain similarities with Caplan’s client-centered case consultation (Caplan,1970). In both consultation models the focus is on a particular client of the consultee, the consultee seeks the consultant’s assistance, the consultee is free to accept or to reject the consultant’s advice, and the consultant has the major responsibility for an expert diagnosis and prescription for change. Several articles have described techniques of behavioral consultation(Dorr, 1977; Halfacre & Welch, 19’73; Goodwin & Garvey, 1971; Greiger, 1972; Kauffman & Vicente, 1972; Tomlinson, 1972). The behavioral consultant in schools quickly realizes that good behavioral technology and good consultation techniques do not guarantee successful behavioral consultation. The consultant must consider the influence of organizational factors on consultation(Gallessich, 1973).

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