Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Computerised testing - a nice collection of tests for learning difficulties

I have been looking at computerized neuropsychological tests lately. For three very important reasons:
  1. Computers do a much better job of administering some tests, e.g. those of speed of processing and attention. I think that our insistence on human-administered tests may mean that we use substandard tools for some jobs.
  2. I think that neuropsychologists need to start using computerised tests a lot more - our expertise is in test interpretation, and we don't have to personally administer each and every test that we interpret - it is not the most efficient use of our time, and
  3. I am booooored - how many times a week can you do the same thing (admittedly in different clinical context, but still)?
I'll get into the tests I have used or still use on another occasion, but today I want to share a new set of tests I've just discovered. They focus on learning difficulties and are produced by a British company - Lucid Research (http://www.lucid-research.com).

For example, there is a fully computerized working memory test (named Recall), normed on over 1000 kids aged 7-16 years (though while most age groups are around 100 kids, there are only 21 kids in the 16 - 16:11 group). The program tests verbal short term memory, visual short term memory and working memory (a task of which has both visual and verbal content, but is probably more verbal in nature). Simple, but definitively worth a look.

They also have a selection of tests screening for cognitive issues that may cause reading problems. For example Rapid screen looks at phonological processing, short-term auditory memory (they name it working memory, but it isn't really), phonic decoding skills and visual-verbal integration memory. All this in 15 minutes of testing without intense input from the administrator. Nice.

While Rapid is a quick screener, there are also in-depth diagnostic tests of reading difficulties. For example LASS 8-11 (yes, LASS, there is also LADS - quite British, this) has verbal span, visual span, reading words, nonwords and sentences, phonological processing, spelling and a quick general ability screen. A nice little test to add to the battery for those of us who deal with learning difficulties.

Has anybody used the tests and could provide their experience and impression in the comments?

Cheers,
Izabela

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