Psych 892 and 592: Developmental Assessment
Instructor: Dawna Thompson, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, School Psychologist
Coordinator, GMU Cognitive Assessment Program
Phone: (703) 993-4731 (office)
(703) 618-7746 (cell)
Lecture: Wednesdays 1 – 3:40, Psychology Clinic
Office Hours: Wednesday before or after class, or by appointment
Assessment of infants and preschool aged children requires special sensitivity to and knowledge of the unique characteristics of this developmental period. The pace of physical and neurological maturation may vary significantly among children of similar chronological ages. In addition, even typical young children may be difficult to assess accurately due to factors such as activity level, distractibility, wariness of strangers, and discomfort in novel environments. Further, factors such as cultural and linguistic differences, environmental disadvantage, and limited interaction with other children or unfamiliar adults can have substantial effects on the interpretation of assessment findings. This course extends other assessment training by introducing considerations and methods needed for evaluating young children (ages two – six). The skills necessary for
formulating, conducting, and reporting comprehensive developmental evaluations will be the primary course focus. While the evaluation of preschool children will receive emphasis, information relating to infants, as well as older children functioning at lower developmental levels, will be included.
The ultimate course goal is for students to be able to obtain and integrate information into a comprehensive—but concisely written—evaluation report that will lead to appropriate
interventions. This, however, requires a number of sub-objectives:
1. Discuss key considerations in the assessment of young children, as opposed to
older children and adolescents, including ethical, legal and psychometric
2. Describe the nature of common problems and disorders beginning in early
childhood, including primary characteristics, risk factors, assessment issues, and
research based interventions.
3. Plan evaluations of young children with specific, suspected problems using a
comprehensive, hypothesis guided approach.
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4. Determine the appropriateness of various assessment techniques and instruments
for use with young children for measuring pre-academic and language skills,
adaptive behavior, psychomotor functioning, and socio-emotional functioning.
5. Understand the contributions of multiple specialized disciplines to the assessment
process (psychologists, pediatricians, speech therapists, vision and hearing
specialists, physical and occupational therapists).
6. Administer and score selected assessment instruments.
7. Integrate and interpret assessment findings with an emphasis on preparing oral
and written reports that guide interventions for young children.
Class time will include didactic presentations of material and active discussion of assigned readings. Some class sessions will be devoted to demonstrations and in-class exercises to develop skills in areas such as test administration and scoring, case formulation, and reporting of results. Application of these skills with children will be through direct work with child volunteers in the community.
The course is organized into instructional modules. Each module consists of materials and activities that teach a specific content area. These do not necessarily correspond, however, to specific class topics.
1 Early Childhood Assessment: Special Considerations and Challenges
-history of early childhood assessment
-controversies surrounding the use of standardized tests with young children
-ethical/legal issues in assessing young children
-screening and school readiness
-technical/psychometric issues in early childhood assessment
2 Alternatives to Norm-Referenced Assessment
-developmental and criterion based measures
-play based assessment
3 Preschool Psychological Disorders
-psychological disorders of infancy and early childhood
-prevalence, incidence, risk factors, outcomes
4 Conceptualizing, Planning, Reporting
-hypothesis based models of assessment planning
-selection of appropriate assessment tools
-integrating and reporting findings
-linking assessment findings to recommendations
Course Requirements and Grading
Students are expected to complete all assigned readings prior to each class session, as well as to attend class and participate fully. Final grades will be based upon an evaluation of student performance in four areas: test administration/scoring; class participation/exercises; class presentation; and a final psychological report.
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Practice Test Administrations with Children: Each student is expected to administer,
score and submit for review the specified number of measures listed below to children of kindergarten age or younger. Grading will be based on both completion and quality of test administration and scoring. If your protocols do not demonstrate mastery of administration/scoring techniques, you will be asked to complete additional administrations. (30%)
1. Denver Developmental Screening Test (DDSDT-II) – 2 children, preferably one
toddler and one preschooler.
2. LAP-D: in class practice
3. Peabody Pictorial Vocabulary Test (PPVT) – 1 child (or classmate)
4. Bayley Scales of Infant Development II (BSID-II) – 2 children, preferably one
infant, one toddler
5. Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement – 1 child (or classmate)
6. Bracken School Readiness Assessment – 1 child
Class Participation and in-class exercises: In-class exercises will focus on administering
the tests presented in the course. One student will role-play the child, while the other practices sections of the test. Other exercises may focus on scoring completed test protocols or planning and reporting evaluations. Overall class participation is also considered. (10%)
Class Presentations: Each student (or pair of students) will select a test appropriate for young children and prepare a brief class presentation covering the test. (20%)
Quizzes: Multiple choice and/or short answer quizzes will periodically be given, covering assigned readings, test administration, etc. (10%)
Final Psychological Report: You will be required to submit a written evaluation report based upon a comprehensive package of information (background, observations, test results) provided by the instructor. (30%).
Of Special Note:
The test interactions in this course are for learning purposes only. Test results are not considered valid and may not be communicated in any form to any individual or organization, nor may they be used as research data. All data collected and submitted must be non-identifiable to preserve confidentiality. Tests administered within the context of this course may not be used for any purpose other than learning to administer, score and interpret the assessment instruments. Any breach of this policy, or falsification of data, will result in immediate failure.
Students are expected to attend class and participate in the discussions and activities. Classroom participation involves sharing information and ideas, contributing to a positive and enthusiastic class atmosphere through asking questions and volunteering ideas. At
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times, particular students, with advance notice, may be asked to lead the class in discussion of specific assessments; please bring relevant materials to class regularly.
The Honor Code of George Mason University deals specifically with cheating and attempted cheating, plagiarism, lying, and stealing. Students should be familiar with the code and connected policies, set out at http://www.gmu.edu/catalog/apolicies. This
course will be conducted in accordance with those policies.
Accommodations for students with disabilities:
If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 703-993-2474. All accommodations must be arranged through that office, and must be initiated immediately, prior to any anticipated need.
Brassard, M.R. and Boehm. (2007). Preschool Assessment: Principles and Practices.
The Guilford Press: New York BB
Greenspan, S. & Weider, S. (2006). Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health: A
Comprehensive Developmental Approach to Assessment and Intervention.
American Psychiatric Publishing: Washington, D.C. GW
Bordgnon, C.M & Lam, T. (2004). The early assessment conundrum: Lessons from the
past, implications for the future. Psychology in the Schools, 41(7), 737-749.
Renee, P.P. (2002). Best practices in assessing kindergarten readiness. The California
School Psychologist, 7, 63-73.
Selected chapters from Bracken and Nagle (2007), provided by instructor
DC 0 – 3: Diagnostic and classification system for birth to three years (1994). Zero-
Three: Washington, D.C.
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CLASS SCHEDULE AND ASSIGNMENTS:
Date Topic 1 Topic 2 Readings Assignments 1/21 Course Overview and History of BN ch.1
Early Development in a Preschool (provided)
nutshell Assess./Legal Basis GW Intro, ch. 1
1/28 Controversies and Overview of BB ch. 3, 11
Technical Cognitive Measures
2/4 Conceptualizing and Bayley Scales: BB 2, 9
Planning Evals; multi-description and
cult. Assessment administration
2/11 Observation, history Bayley Scales: Start Bayley Bayley checkout
taking and interviewing scoring, practice manual; BB. ch.
2/18 Staging and conducting Bayley Scales Bayley manual;
preschool assessments practice BB ch. 5
2/25 Screening; Assessing DDST admin. & Denver manual;
Academic Readiness practice, Bracken Bracken manual
Pyle BB ch.6
3/4 Curriculum Based Bracken admin. BB ch. 7 Denver checkout
Assessment/ Language PPVT admin and Quiz
& Communication Practice
3/18 Assessing motor, neuro. Lap-D practice GW: 7 (turn in Bayley)
Characteristics Checkout Bracken 3/25 Overview of WJ preschool BB 12, 13 (turn in Denver)
Educational & Clinical assess., GW 8, 9
4/1 Assessing socio-emot., Play based BB 14 (turn in Bayley)
adaptive functioning assessment BN 11 (provided)
4/08 Student presentations Student GW 2, 4 (turn in Denver,
presentations WJ, PPVT if
possible) 4/15 Student presentations Student Borg. & Lam (keep turning in
presentations GW 5, 6 Protocols) 4/22 Reporting of Findings Report Writing Final report data
Exercises will be provided 4/29 Assessing infants, Wrap-up, course TBA Turn in all
special populations Evaluations protocols, final