Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

W. Grant Willis

Abstract

Social skills are important components of social‐emotional functioning that allow children to be successful in school, both socially and academically. A single, agreed‐upon definition of social skills has not been identified in the literature, however, which has led to variations in the measurement and assessment of social skills. Issues of measurement may be linked to the ineffectiveness of school‐based social‐skills interventions. Commonly used conceptualizations and operationalizations of social skills are presented, as well as a review of issues surrounding social‐skills interventions. The use of a multitrait‐multimethod approach is presented for the use of establishing a unified set of social skills and the use of generalizability theory is examined as a psychometrically‐based approach to developing a measure for observing social skills. The assessed skills included six social skills, drawn from the Social Skills Improvement System – Rating Scales, and two academic skills. Skills were assessed using behavioral observation and rating scales. Convergent and discriminant validity was evaluated for a social skills construct, or a homogenous set of social skills. The reliability of the observational strategy was evaluated in order to assess the optimal number of occasions and skills needed in order to obtain adequate degrees of reliability. Results indicated that a homogenous set of skills could be identified and that a behavioral observation strategy could be used reliably to assess social skills. Results are discussed in terms of applied use for the measurement strategy in school settings for formative assessment and in terms of directions for future research.

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