Tuesday, April 23, 2013

WAIS and WISC on the iPad - the good and the bad

OK, I have now had a week and a half of using  WAIS and WISC on the iPad. I have played with it a lot and I have now assessed four people with it. My impressions are rather mixed. I am giving Pearson lots of feedback (poor people), so it is quite possible that some of my pet peeves will disappear in the next version. Here it is: the good, the bad and the ugly:

The good:

1. The app is a solid translation of the test into the electronic medium. Things work, the subtests are the same, and the test is an exact copy of the original.

2. The administration instructions on the screen allow for a nice, uniform administration.

3. There are also some additional instructions about the administration and scoring that are easily accessed by tapping an icon.

4. The software scores each subtest and provides the scores immediately after each subtest. It also provides all the scaled scores, index scores and information about differences between indexes, including base rates, after the completion of the test. Nice.

5. If you score as you go, the test lets you know when to discontinue. It also gives you the option of testing limits if you want - very nice.

5. On verbal subtests one can choose one of the 'example' answers by pressing it, which frequently saves you from writing full answers down. There is also an option of writing things down in their entirety.

6. It seems somewhat less onerous to administer the test on the iPad, and one does not have to double-check the scoring.

The bad:
While the program is a competent version of the test, it is not a good app. The sleekness that one expects from an iPad app is lacking. It would probably not bug me if this was a PC application, as one does not expect it to be especially user-friendly. However, the same issues bother me greatly on an iPad. Here is a list of some things that bug me:

1. The app is not easy to start using. Do not count on being able to administer the WAIS without going through at least a couple of dummy clients - some practice is definitively needed.

2. There is no on-screen help for the features of the program, and it would be really useful at times.

3. The writing on the screen is very small and hard to read - granted, the writing is the same size as it would be in the manual. However, it could have been made much bigger, especially considering that there is often one line of 10-point text at the top of the screen, while the rest of the screen is empty.

4. Scoring is fully non-automatic, even in places where you would expect it to be. For example, you can choose a 2-point answer on Vocabulary, but that does not automatically give the clients a 2-point score. Apparently, automatic scoring was in the original and was criticized by users in the USA, hence no automatic scoring. Judging from Word Reasoning on WISC, where the scoring, in contrast to all other subtests, seems to happen entirely in the background and without the clinician's input, this was not that good either. Some automaticity in scoring that can be adjusted by the clinician would be best.

5. The timer is built-in, and can be used to count up or down. However, there is no option of having a chime at the end of the count-down. I found myself using my own timer on Symbol Search and Coding because of that.

6. The exported results are formatted in a quite painful way and there is no obvious way of getting Block Design with no time bonus score or Reliable Digit Span.

7. The logging-in problem is still an issue: while Pearson managed to log me onto the two iPads they provided, my attempts to log on using another iPad are still unsuccessful. I understand that the developer is looking into this.

8. One cannot delete a client file once it is created. This is a potential confidentiality issue, e.g.: at times when the client did not attend. I don't like client details floating in places they don't need to be. I have discussed it with a Pearson representative and she said that they will have a look into the issue. In the meantime, I found that I can edit the client details completely, leaving only the client number unchanged, so there is a way of dealing with it.

I'll be back with more information of CVLT and D-KEFS

Till next time,

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Christmas somewhat postponed

I have received the iPads about two weeks ago, but could not start playing with the testing software until last Thursday.

Something went very iffy in my iPads, and the Q-interactive program refused to open: every time it logged me in and then immediately went to update itself, invariably crashing during the update.

Pearson were terrific in their client support, but nothing they tried worked. In the end, they took the iPads away, and it took them a few days to log in. They still didn't seem to know what went wrong in the first place.

This glitch is a concern, but it seems to have just hexed my iPads. I know that another person who is involved in the trial has been able to open and work the testing software.

In any case, if you have similar problems in using the software, don't assume you are doing anything wrong and get Pearson to work it out. Hopefully, by the end of the trial they will have the problem solved.

In the meantime, I'm madly playing with the software and will send updates shortly.



Christmas has come

I have had some lovely things arrive by a courier the other day. Pearson is releasing their iPad based WAIS and WISC and I am one of the people they chose to take part in the Australian trials. So I received two iPads, with accessories, and free access to Q-interactive for a month. My job is to  to answer some questions about my experience every week. In the spirit of full disclosure, I need to tell you that I get to keep the iPads and accessories after the end of the trial and my registration to Q-interactive is free till September. I get to pay for assessments after the end of the trial. So yes, I am very happy with all of this, and rather positively disposed towards the trial.

Not that I would not anyway, being rather geeky and enjoying all new gizmos.

I have checked with Pearson, and I am allowed to blog about the trial. The only thing that they ask is that I call their consultant first if I encounter any problems. That sounds very reasonable.

For the first instalment, I am going to summarise my pre-trial opinion about Q-interactive. This is pretty much what I said during last years conference.

1. The iPad version of the tests is essentially the same as the paper version - Pearson are using the same norms, so they could not change much. There are some nice-haves on the iPad, but no major changes. There are some equivalence studies, the info about which is on the Internet. So the bottom line is that you can please yourself in terms of whether you use paper or iPad version.

2. The main difference is going to be price and cash flow. The administration on the iPad does not require an upfront expense of buying the test battery, and with both WISC, WAIS, DKEFS (part, I believe) and CVLT, this is significant. On the other hand, there is the yearly subscription, cost of 2 iPads (and iPad upgrades which are likely to be more frequent than every 10 years). Still, without a doubt, there upfront price is much less. However, there will be a cost per client of administering the tests. It'll need careful arithmetic to calculate the comparative costs.