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Automated Working Memory Assessment (AWMA) - Validity

Convergent Validity | Divergent Validity | Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function | Conners Teacher Rating Scale | Construct stability in those with low working memory

Convergent validity

There is a high degree of convergence in performance between the AWMA and the WISC-IV Working Memory Index. This was established in a group of low working memory (standard scores <86) and average working memory children (standard scores >95; Alloway et al., in press-a).

Performance on the digit span test from the WMI was able to assign correct group membership for 91% of low and average working memory children.

Divergent validity

Working Memory Rating Scale. We compared the relationship between the AWMA, a cognitive-based measure of working memory, and the Working Memory Rating Scale (WMRS, Alloway et al., 2008-a), a behaviour-based measure of working memory (Alloway et al., in press-b).

A total of 417 children aged between 5 and 11 years 5 months from schools in England participated in the study. A measurement model provided the opportunity to test the relationship between the two factors: it was .52, with 27% of their variance shared. This establishes a substantial relationship between the direct and rating-based assessments of working memory.

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Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function

We compared AWMA scores with a teacher-rating measure of behavior, the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF; Gioia et al., 2000) in children with low (standard scores <86) and average working memory (standard scores >95; Alloway et al., 2008-b).

Over 50% of the low working memory group received atypical scores characterizing a deficit in the Behavior Regulation Index, and the Initiate and Working memory subscales. The latter two are related to the child’s ability to plan and effectively manage information in working memory.

This finding indicates that children with working memory deficits struggled with classroom activities that relate to working memory such as organizing large amounts of information and monitoring work to avoid errors. However, they did not exhibit the difficulties in controlling behavior or emotion that characterized the ADHD children.

In contrast, less than 10% of average working memory children received atypical scores in these subscales.

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Conners’ Teacher Rating Scale

We also compared AWMA scores with another teacher-rating measure of behaviour, Conners’ Teacher Rating Scale (CTRS; Conners, 2001) in children with low (standard scores <86) and average working memory (standard scores >95; Alloway et al., 2008-b).

Half the low working memory children had atypical scores characterizing a deficit in the Cognitive Problems/Inattention subscale, but not in the other subscales of Oppositional or Hyperactive behaviour. In contrast, only 5% of average working memory children received atypical scores in these subscales.

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Construct stability in those with low working memory

Working memory skills in children with low working memory remain relatively stable over the course of the school year (Alloway, in press).

Data was collected from 102 children who obtained scores at or below the 10th centile for children tested in their age group in verbal working memory in the AWMA. They were tested nine months later on a test for each of the memory components.

The moderate relationship between the students’ performance at the beginning and the end of the school year confirms that their working memory capacity was relatively stable across the school year and was unlikely to improve over time as a result of normal schooling. This provides support for the use of the AWMA as a screening tool for targeting early intervention.

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Key Information

Description

AWMA provides a practical and convenient way for teachers and psychologists to screen for significant working memory problems from childhood to early adulthood

Author(s)

Dr Tracy Packiam Alloway

Publication Year

2007

Age Range

4 to 22 years

Administration

Individual - Screener: 5 to 7 mins; Short form: 10 to 15 mins; Long form: 45 mins

Qualification Code

CL3


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