Further Examination of Two Measures of Community-Based Social Skills for Adolescents and Young Adults with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

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ABSTRACT. Two measures of community-based social behavior for adolescents and young adults with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD), the male and female forms of the Test of Community-Based Social Skill Knowledge (TCSK) and the Scale of Community-Based Social Skill Performance (CBSP), were examined. In previous research, conceptually derived subsections of the two measures yielded high intercorrelations, suggesting the need to conduct further analyses to refine and shorten both instruments to make them more applicable for use in school and service programs. The male and female forms of the TCSK were each treated as one factor. Item-total correlations were computed, identifying 17 items in the female form and 15 items in the male form to be deleted. Factor analysis of the CBSP yielded a logical and psychometrically adequate factor structure, with a total of 78 items across four factors. The shortened TCSK forms and the four CBSP factors (al yielded acceptable reliabilities, (b) discriminated among subgroups of participants, and (c) exhibited convergent and divergent correlations in hypothesized directions. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for social skills instruction and future research on the measures.

* Perhaps the most salient characteristic of adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD) is their lack of appropriate social skills (Freedman, Rosenthal, Donahoe, Schlundt, & McFall, 1978; Gaffney & McFall, 1981; Kazdin, 1987a, 1987b, 1993). As adolescents with E/BD age into adulthood, these deficits have grave consequences. These persons encounter difficulties living successfully in the community and display marital difficulties, substance abuse, depression, violence, and arrests in excess of the national norms for their peers without FE/BD (e.g., Parker & Asher, 1987; Robins, 1978, 1981). Accordingly, social skills instruction represents an important intervention for adolescents with E/BD in secondary/transition programs (Walker & Bullis, 1995). It must be recognized that, of the population as a whole, between 45% and 60% will drop out of high school before completion (Blackorby, Edgar, & Kortering, 1991), 10% to 15% will enter postsecondary education programs (Valdes, Williamson, & Wagner, 1990), and few will receive services from adult service agencies (Kortering & Edgar, 1988). It follows that interventions offered in secondary/transition programs must be as powerful and as focused as possible, since they may well be the last coordinated services these persons will receive before entering society and adult life.

Research suggests that adolescence may be an efficacious and receptive time to instruct persons with E/BD in the type of prosocial skills they will need to live successfully as adults in our society (Albee, 1982; Hobbs & Robinson, 1982). Social skills interventions, however, have demonstrated varied short- and long-term success (Ager & Cole, 1991; Gresham & Lemanek,1983; Henderson & Hollin, 1983; Hobbs, Moguin, Tyroler, & Lahey, 1980). At least some of the shortcomings found in these interventions are attributable to a lack of awareness about the content-that is, the exact types of social skills-necessary to promote successful community adjustment for adolescents with E/BD. Content specification is crucial, because instruction must address high-priority social skills if it is to be relevant to real needs and have maximum impact (Freedman et al., 1978; Kazdin, 1985; Linehan,1980; McFall,1982,1986).

In previous research, we examined the community-based social skills of adolescents and young adults with E/BD (Bullis, Bull, P. Johnson , & B. Johnson,1994) to develop two social skills assessment instruments that would specifically address the types of interactions these persons were likely to encounter in community living situations. In that study, the length of time required to complete the measures was identified as a weakness by educators, and a high degree of intercorrelation was apparent within each measure. …