Date of Award

1975

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Stephen L. O'Keefe

Abstract

Visual memory as traditionally defined is a confounded measure, intercorrelated with visual processing abilities of discrimination and copying. In this study visual memory performance was conceptualized to exclude the effects of copying disabilities. The derived measure of visual memory was the difference between a reproduction from memory score and the score obtained on an equivalent copying task. Copying was considered a complex function including discrimination and visual-motor integration. These definitions were necessary to separate out the factors in visual memory assessment and thus provide for a differential diagnosis of visual processing disabilities.

Visual discrimination, copying and reproduction-from-memory measures were hypothesized to be intercorrelated, reflecting the confounding of the measures, and since discrimination, visual-motor integration and visual memory were defined as separate abilities, they were not expected to be correlated. In addition hypotheses were made concerning the effects of sex, age and intelligence level of the child and sex of the examiner upon discrimination, integration and memory. A test battery was administered to 320 white elementary school children divided equally into groups for levels of sex, high and average IQ, and eight age groups, 6-10. Half the children were administered the test battery by male examiners, half by female examiners. Previous research demonstrated significant effects of motivation on visual processing measures. Therefore, all tests were administered under motivating conditions, the promise and immediate payment of one penny for each correct response.

The tests consisted of a visual discrimination test prepared by the author, the copying administration of the Revised Visual Retention Test (Benton, 1963) and the reproduction administration of that test. Using a paired comparison administration format, the discrimination test was designed to approximate the errors possible in the other two test conditions.

Results indicated that measures of discrimination, copying and reproduction were intercorrelated suggesting that they are confounded measures of separate abilities. The discrimination measure and the derived measures of visual-motor integration and visual memory were not intercorrelated indicating that separate abilities are being measured. Norms were established for these measures under motivating conditions to facilitate differential diagnosis.

The hypothesis that sex of the child would make no difference on any of the measures was accepted. The sex of the examiner, however, influenced the measure of visual memory in that children made more errors with female examiners.

Age of the child effected the measures of discrimination and memory but not the derived visual-motor integration measure. Intelligence of the child effected only the discrimination measure in that above average children made fewer errors than average children.

The finding of no significant main or interaction effect for the derived visual-motor integration led to the conclusion that integration may be a constant factor in elementary school children.

Norms reflecting these significant findings of assessment condition effects were presented for all the measures under motivating conditions. These norms on both the traditional and derived measures, since they help to specify the nature of visual processing, should facilitate more focused and effective remediation attempts.

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