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Child Life Program Evaluation: The Importance of Choosing Appropriate Tests and Measures Joan Turner, PhD., CCLS Nicole Graham, MS, CCLS Toni Crowell, MS, CCLS Laura Gaynard, PhD, CCLS Evidence-Based Practice Committee

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Child Life Program Evaluation:

The Importance of Choosing Appropriate Tests and Measures

Joan Turner, PhD., CCLS

Nicole Graham, MS, CCLS

Toni Crowell, MS, CCLS

Laura Gaynard, PhD, CCLS

Evidence-Based Practice Committee

This presentation describes key concepts related to the identification and evaluation of measures appropriate for the assessment of child life interventions and programs.

The importance of clarification of research questions, identification of measurable concepts, the assessment of psychometric properties and a guide to finding existing measures will be illustrated.

Finding existing measures

Research Methods 101

Child Life professionals have very specific goals and outcomes of interest related to their

programs and interactions with children, families, and other professionals. The questions

that arise from daily practice can be answered through the process of research.

Research Questions

Starting with the selection of an area of interest, research questions and/or hypotheses can

be further developed through a systematic review of related literature. Primary sources, such as peer reviewed journal articles are published with the aim of informing and educating the reader. This process allows the researcher to glean a range of useful information for proceeding with a specific study. The way you ask your question will determine the way you go about measuring your concepts of interest.

Measurement

People make informal judgments everyday. Formal measurement, however, requires the assignment of values to specific variables of interest. The term “variable” means that the general class or category of interest can take on more than one value and be measured,

e.g., Gender = male or female;

e.g., Child life specialists provide care for children = Strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree, strongly disagree

Methods of measurement vary

Tests: achievement tests, attitude tests, personality tests

Observation techniques: duration, frequency, interval, continuous recording

Questionnaires: self report, open-ended, forced choice, checklists

Interviews: structured, semi-structured

Physiological measures: blood pressure, cortisol

Many standardized or established tests, observations scales, questionnaires and interviews are available. Most have documented reliability and validity – two psychometric properties that provide evidence of a good measure. If a poor measure is developed or applied, the results of the study may be insensitive, spurious, or incorrect.

Reliability = consistency, dependability, stability. Reported using a reliability coefficient r.

(r = .80 - .90 is considered acceptable).

Validity = accuracy, soundness, measures what it is designed to measure (rather than some other construct). Reported as a matter of degree, from low to high validity. Validity must be interpreted relative to the context in which the measure is applied.

Examples from the Literature