Hi! I’m Silvana Bialosiewicz, an advanced doctoral student at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and Senior Research Associate at the Claremont Evaluation Center. My goal as an applied researcher is to help develop and disseminate “best-practices” for high-quality evaluation of programs that serve children. Today I’d like to share some strategies for collecting valid and reliable data from young children.
Research on youth-program evaluation and child development reveal that:
- Children less than nine years old possess limited abilities to accurately self-report, especially by way of written surveys
- Previously validated measures are not always appropriate for diverse samples of children
Therefore, a critical step in the process of designing evaluations of youth programs is the development and/or choosing of measures that are sensitive to children’s language skills, reading and writing abilities, and life experiences.
Hot Tip: Consider using alternatives to written surveys, such as interviews, when collecting data from children less than nine years old. If written surveys are used, be cognizant of young children’s inability to understand complex questions and accurately recall past experiences. Surveys for young children should be orally administered, use simple language, and use response options that children can easily understand.
Hot Tip: Do not assume that a measure, which has been demonstrated to be valid in a previous study, is appropriate for your participants, especially when the program serves a diverse population of children. The majority of psychological measures for children have been developed and normed on samples of high SES Caucasian children and cannot be assumed to be valid and reliably for diverse samples of children (i.e. English Language Learners, ethnic and cultural minorities, children with physical or sensory disabilities).
Hot Tip: Pilot test your measures, even previously validated measures, before launching full scale data collection to ensure developmental and contextual appropriateness.
Rad Resources: Researching with Children & Young People by Tisdall, Davis, & Gallagher and Through the Eyes of the Child: Obtaining Self-Reports from Children by La Greca are two great books for anyone looking to expand their knowledge on this topic.
Other AEA365 posts on this topic:
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