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Open Access Dissertation
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Dr. Sara A. Whitcomb
Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | School Psychology | Student Counseling and Personnel Services
The goal of this project was to address a significant gap in the research literature with regard to available screening tools that allow young children to self-identify needs related to their social-emotional development. A review of current evidence-based social-emotional tools led to the identification of seven domains most frequently utilized: self-regulation, emotional regulation, social skills, self-concept, school connectedness, social responsibility, and optimism/positivity. To accomplish this endeavor, two studies were conducted to develop a screening measure that demonstrated adequate psychometric properties, but also minimized cost related to time for implementation. The first study was a review of 105 pilot scale items by kindergarten through second grade teachers (n = 12). Teachers ranked items based on importance that students demonstrate these skills at this developmental stage and also the readability of items. Rankings were then compared to that of the principal investigator. A balance of items from the seven domains with the highest rankings were taken to develop a 30-item pilot survey. The second study was a pilot of a self-report survey completed by kindergarten through second grade students (n = 384) from two different districts in the Northeast. This survey was completed by students via group administration. Special consideration was given to the survey design to maximize the likelihood that students would remain engaged and provide reliable information. Students were presented with visuals and additional prompts to aid in administration of the tool. Classic item analysis approaches found one item that was an outlier and was removed from analysis. The remaining 29 items were reviewed by an exploratory factor analysis. It was found that this scale presents with unidimensionality and explained 30.5% of the variance. Items were then compared utilizing a graded response model of item response theory. Following this review, 12 items were identified for future research from five of the seven original domains (self-regulation, social skills, school connectedness, social responsibility, and optimism). This scale will require future assessments to further validate the measure, but marks an important step in the potential development of a scale which allows young students to self-report social-emotional needs and receive early intervention supports.
Brenchley, James F.M., "Social-Emotional Development Assessment: Scale Development for Kindergarten through Second Grade Youth Universal Screening" (2017). Doctoral Dissertations. 1043.